Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dear Younger Me, This is All Your Fault

This is the view from the street, before I did any digging.
The lawn has been having a tough go. Usually a point of pride and the envy of the neighborhood (if, in fact, these people are paying any attention), it didn’t so much survive the summer. We had a drought here in southwestern PA. Not the “stop washing your car and make everyone share one tub of bath water” kind of drought, but more a lack of rain for three months straight. By July, instead of looking over a little patch of the most luscious green grass in all of creation, we were seeing brown spots. The September turf was riddled with expanses of dust.

So it should not have been a surprise when I looked out the window on Wednesday morning and saw nothing but death and destruction. Of fine fescue, that is.

A late afternoon break from editing the Magic Ear Kids book (coming soon to, was spent raking the dusty, shriveled brown remnants of my lawn into piles and pondering the healthy crop of grubs below.

Grubs are disgusting. I knew they were there, in the backyard, where we play and let weeds grow. And I knew, deep down, that they’d be a front yard problem some day.

European chafers can devastate a lawn with little warning because the adult beetles fly at dusk when they emerge in June and early July, and can easily be overlooked because their evening flight to mate and lay eggs occurs after sunset. European chafers are generally found in drier turf* and their population levels will fluctuate depending upon how wet or dry the weather was the previous summer. "How to choose and when to apply grub control products for your lawn" from the Michigan State University Extension.

This summer, though, as my lawn slipped from the land of the living, I did not water it. Water would have made it grow and it was fun to take extended breaks from yard maintenance. My husband does the mowing, but I’d rather him float in the pool with us than push the mower around.

I let it die.

It’s been years since I discovered the voles in the backyard and consequently became aware of their grubby food source. What mystical barrier kept the backyard pests away from my front yard pride and joy? Nothing.

And that’s exactly what I did for grub control. Nothing.

Now that it’s time to collect the wages of my landscaping laziness, I feel like using my stern mom voice.

“We’re not going to have a lawn anymore because YOU don’t take care of it!” I’d shout.

But there’s no one to blame but myself.

Birds, skunks, armadillos, raccoons or moles are tearing up your lawn – they eat grubs and are trying to uncover them. These animals also dig and eat earthworms, so confirm grubs are present before pursuing any treatment. Dealing with Grubs via Bayer Advanced

This is the view from the front porch stoop. It could also be called the "after"
picture because I raked and planted grass seed. I'll be surprised if it looks any
better in the spring.
Too late in the season for reliable germination, there’s going to be a mud pit all winter. Whatever is doing this digging (I'm thinking we can rule out armadillos) might come back for the remaining green grass. By spring, we might need a whole new lawn. Even if we don't, those European chafers will still be lurking under the surface.

Suddenly, I find myself longing for a long, cold winter. That would kill them. Right?

*Japanese beetle grubs like "irrigated" lawns, so perhaps watering wasn't so much of a cure all anyway.