Turf Talk
Our Turf Talk blog gives you the professional advice you need to care for your lawn.

Category Archives: General

My lawn was ravaged by Chinch Bugs last summer. Will insecticides be banned as well?


I have been informed, by a source within Manitoba Conservation, that the emphasis on the ban will be on “cosmetic” pesticides, and that they do not view insecticides within the realm of this classification. At present, they assure me that insecticides will not be included in the ban.

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I have a two foot strip of dead lawn all the way around the foundation of my house. I’ve tried everything to get it to grow but nothing seems to work. The rest of my lawn looks great. What’s happening around my foundation?


Without having seen your house I know that the exterior is stucco. Psychic power? I wouldn’t be in lawn care if I was psychic. Every stucco home built in Manitoba shares the same problem. Stucco contains lime. Over time, the lime in the stucco gets washed down the side of your home and into the soil around the foundation. Lime is alkaline, meaning it raises the pH in the soil. Your lawn requires a pH of 6.5 to 7.0 to remain healthy. Lawn fertilizers are slightly acidic. When you apply fertilizer (an acid) to your lawn, you change the pH of the soil which results in a deep green colour. Add too much fertilizer (or acid) and you can unintentionally “burn” your lawn. Lime works in the opposite manner. As the lime washes off the stucco on the walls of your house, and into the soil around the foundation, it…

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My lawn suffered a lot of winter kill this year. Is there anything I can do to help my lawn recover and how can I keep this from happening?

Winter kill was extremely prevalent this spring. Several factors contribute to winter kill. The most likely cause of most winterkill this year was last years dry conditions. Although we did get some moisture last fall, it didn’t come any where close to making up for what the ground was missing. Yes, some people had astronomical water bills and still got winter kill, but most people just don’t realize how much of that water burned off before it penetrated any further than two or three inches down, or how tremendously shortchanged we were by Mother Nature we were. Take a parched lawn. Freeze it. Then let 100 centimetres of snow melt over 4 weeks, then ask it to go through a growth spurt. Only the strongest plants are going to survive the ordeal. How fast the snow melts, how many times the meltwater under the snow on your lawn freezes and…

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How long should a lawn last?

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I always like to think of the lawn like a human body. Eat your veggies, get lots of exercise, take your vitamins, take medicines when you get sick and so on and you will likely lead a long healthy life. Spend your life drinking, smoking, and doing drugs and your body will probably pay for it. A well cared for lawn should be expected to last anywhere from 30 to 40 years. Most lawns will likely start to show their age at about 25 years and will likely need to be “renovated” at least once or twice by adding a few layers of soil, seed, and by aerating annually in order to extend its life.  

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What should I do with the old weed and feed product I have in my garage?


Use it for what it was intended for. Much of the active ingredient(s) will have dissipated within the container, but your lawn will still likely benefit from what remains of nutrients that are still lingering in the product. This is certainly the best alternative. Whatever you do, do not throw unused fertilizer or weed control products into the garbage since it will inevitably end up in the landfill, which is not where these products belong. If you have some other type of fertilizer or pesticide you need to dispose of, give it away to someone who might use it or you can call an environmental agency that properly disposes of petroleum products and other chemicals that pose a potential danger to the environment.

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Every once in a while I get mushrooms in my lawn. Is there anything I can do to get rid of them?


Not really. Mushrooms usually emerge during periods of excessive moisture. They will most often grow in a cluster, accompanied by darker grass in the shape of a crescent moon. Lawn care professionals call this “Fairy Ring”. You will often find more than one of these crescent moons lined with mushrooms in an average lawn. The mushrooms occur as a result of decomposing organic matter, such as a tree stump or branch below the surface of the lawn. A stray piece of wood left behind during the construction of the home might also be the cause. Thus, fairy ring tends to be more prevalent in newer suburbs. While removing the dead piece of wood might seem to be the obvious solution to this problem, finding it is another story. You may dig up your lawn only to find a giant tree stump. You may dig up your lawn and find nothing…

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I have a white powder on part of my lawn. What is it?

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You have a harmless fungal growth commonly referred to as “powdery mildew”. Here in Manitoba it rarely becomes severe enough to damage the lawn. Powdery mildew is usually most prevalent during periods of high humidity and cool nights. It is also indicative of a lawn that has high nitrogen content. While a fungicide is available to treat severe cases, I have never seen a case severe enough to warrant a fungicide treatment. Given a few days, weather conditions usually change. The grass blades will continue to grow and the infected blades will simply get cut off by your lawn mower. Powdery mildew is also a common problem in many tree species.

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How do sports fields and golf courses do that striping effect?

The striping effect is achieved using a weighted roller mounted behind the mower. The roller simply flattens the grass. Each row the mower cuts is flattened in alternating directions. By flattening the grass, more of the green part of the blade is exposed. When looking at the lawn, the grass that has been flattened away from you appears as the greener stripes because you are seeing more of the blade side on. The grass that has been flattened away from you appears lighter because you are seeing more of the tips of the blades. The effect is far more dramatic from the air which is why golf courses on T.V. look so amazing when you see them from the helicopter fly over, or when you see sports fields from the Goodyear blimp. Where artificial turf is used, a metal broom is used to comb the turf in one direction or…

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Here comes the sun. Will your lawn beat the heat?

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By now, your lawn growth will have started to slow. Slower growth means slower recovery and repair when damage occurs. It also means less resistance to stress from insects, diseases and heat. On the other side of this brochure, we’ve recommended a cutting height of 4 inches. Proper cutting is the single, most important key to maintaining a healthy lawn. Mowing right helps the lawn to thicken up, increase in density, thrive while other lawns are suffering, reduces the need for watering, and increases stress resistance. Mowing incorrectly, even once, stops all of this from happening. Poor mowing practices don’t simply stress the lawn, it actually damages it. There is a difference. On the front of our lawn sign that you’ve been keeping near your front steps, is a handy ruler for your convenience whenever you cut your lawn.

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