"Dedicated to Producing Quality Turfgrass Sod to Protect Our Chesapeake Bay"
We are an association of sod producers and others related to the sod production industry in Maryland.
We meet quarterly with additional meetings as needed.
Jack Warpinski of Central Sod Farms, Inc. is the current MTA President
Please contact Vernon Cooper, executive director of MTA for more information about MTA activities and membership opportunities at : pelouse-gazon.com
Sod grown under the rules and regulations of the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s
(MDA) Maryland Certified Turfgrass Sod Program is sod grown under the most stringent regulations
and scrutinized harder than sod grown in any other state in the United States. This is because many
grasses will sprout and begin to grow in this area but only a select portion of these grasses will survive
and thrive through the hot humid summers and the dry cold winters that are experienced here.
This is a voluntary program, but for a farmer to participate in this program he must apply to the
MDA’s Turf and Seed Section. An agronomist will visit the farm and inspect each field for any
noxious weeds, or weeds which will be difficult to control, before a field is approved to be prepared to
be planted. Once any problems or concerns are eradicated or controlled, then the farmer can begin his
At about this same time, the farmer notifies the seed companies which participate in the
Maryland Interagency Certified Seed Mixing Program. The farmer chooses his seed from a
“recommended” list of varieties which are published each year by the U of MD in College Park, MD
and VPI in Blacksburg, VA. These varieties are only recommended after being tested at several
locations in both MD & VA and determined to thrive among the best for a minimum of five (5) years.
The seed must also be commercially available, and available as certified seed.
Once the varieties are selected the MDA is notified and they perform a review of all tests of
each component which was previously tested in the Maryland seed laboratory. If all are found to meet
the standards, an inspector goes to the warehouse, physically enters each piece of machinery to ensure
it is clean, checks to verify each bag as it is opened and dumped into the mixer. The inspector times
the mixture and at the appointed time watches as the seed is removed, placed into new clean bags, and
he issues a Maryland Certified Mixture tag which is sewn onto each bag. The inspector samples the
final product and it is ready for shipment to the sod farmer.
Once the seed arrives on the farm and the farmer has prepared the soil into a loose, friable,
amended, level seed bed, the seed is planted utilizing specific grass planters that distribute the seed at
the proper rates and firms the seed into the soil. The seed then remains just under the surface of the
soil until it either rains or irrigation water is applied. Usually between 17 and 35 days after planting,
little green hairs become visible across the field.
Over the next several weeks and months, the grass continues to grow. The grass is mowed,
fertilized, rolled, sprayed to control weeds and insects, and pampered as only a sod farmer can do,
turning the grass into tight, uniform turf which can then be harvested as sod. During this time, the
MDA has visited the farm and verified that proper agronomic practices are being applied and makes
any recommendations as they see necessary to produce the best quality sod available.
Once the sod is mature and ready for harvest, the MDA agronomist does one last inspection
and issues certification labels, which are attached to the back of each invoice, declaring the product to
be Maryland Certified Turfgrass Sod. The best of the best is now ready for pick-up or delivery to you.
Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia and a stretch through central Ohio makes up what is
called the “Transition Zone” when dealing with turf grasses. To the North of this area, cool season
grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, grow easily and flourish. To the South of this
area, you find warm season grasses like Zoysia grass and Bermudagrass that grow with little effort.
Unfortunately, we live and are trying to grow a lawn in the area between these growing regions, we are
in the transition zone.
What this means is that there really is no grass well suited for this area. It is too hot and humid
here in the summer for the cool season grasses and it is too dry and cold here in the winter for the
warm season grasses. However, to provide a green healthy turf in this transition zone we must
evaluate the characteristics of the different kinds of grasses. We turn to our Land Grant Universities in
Maryland and Virginia to plant and evaluate these grasses and to recommend those varieties which will
thrive here in our climatic conditions, are commercially available, and are available as certified seed.
Along with the varieties, you must also determine what use this turf will have. Is this to be an
extremely high profile turf where professional agronomists are on staff to diagnose and provide
technical advice with a very high, almost unlimited budget? Is it important that this turf look green
through out the year? Is this turf to be played on by children and/or pets? Is this to be an all around
general purpose turf sustaining good color and texture with minimal maintenance?
The Cadillac of turfgrass sod has to be Kentucky bluegrass sod. It is the darkest green color,
finest texture, loves full sun, and never clumps. It spreads by underground rhizomes, thus has the
capability to repair itself and thus should always look uniform. However, Kentucky bluegrass is
extremely high maintenance. It requires more fertility and is more prone to more different diseases
than any other turf in this area. It is not known for its ability to survive in shade and is very susceptible
to even slight salt spray. This is a turf that requires continual monitoring and considerable funds to
keep it looking good. Kentucky bluegrass is the turf for professional maintenance like what is
provided to major league baseball fields such as Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Zoysia and Bermudagrass look good during the summer months, however for 8 to 9 months of
the year they are dormant and are brown in color. Like the bluegrass, they also spread by underground
rhizomes but Zoysia is very slow to spread (as little as 2-5 inches per year) and Bermudagrass often is
too vigorous spreading (up to three (3) feet in a year) making it difficult to keep out of shrubbery beds
and even your asphalt driveway. In addition, Maryland is basically the northern limit for
Bermudagrass meaning that a bad winter can cause extensive damage and winter kill. The leaves of
both of these grasses contain a large amount of silica making the clippings very hard to break down.
This causes thatch to build up quickly creating a good micro climate for insects and disease and
requires heavy power raking every couple of years. Neither of these grasses do well in shade
Thus the one sod which does well in full sun and partial shade, is resistant to most
diseases, maintains a good color and texture even in the summer with a little water, requires less
fertility, is resistant to moderate salt spray, and stand up well to moderate traffic from children
and pets is Turf Type Tall Fescue.
Turf Type Tall Fescue is the only sod which we produce because we feel it is the one sod
which will work well in almost any situation. We plant a mixture of different varieties that are
currently recommended by the University of MD and VPI. Using a mixture of tall fescue varieties
allows for diversification of all the better characteristics. All of our sod follows all the regulations and
standards set forth by the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Turfgrass Certification Program and
is constantly inspected by the watchful eyes of professional agronomists.
Don’t be confused if you are familiar with the old Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue which was
recommended 20 years ago. Kentucky 31 is actually a forage tall fescue and while the new turf types
have many of the similar characteristics like a deep root system, the new turf types which we use have
been refined many times to provide a finer texture, darker color, and more resistance to the few
diseases which affected the old Kentucky 31.
So when you are in need of sod and you are looking for a beautiful, all purpose turf that will
last for many years, choose Turf Type Tall Fescue sod from a MTA Sod Farm. You won’t be
Trying to determine how much sod you should order is an important but easy thing to
calculate. Take the area to be sodded and determine imaginary squares, rectangles, and triangles
to encompass the entire area.
Measure the length and width of the squares and rectangles. Multiply the length
measurement by the width measurement this will give you the number of square feet within the
area. Measure the length and width of the triangles. Multiply the length measurement by the
width measurement and divide the figure by 2 this will give you the number of square feet within
Add together all the square foot calculations from the squares, rectangles, and triangles
and you have the area within what you want to sod. To ensure you have enough sod ordered,
add an additional 3-5% to allow for trimming around any objects which may be present.
Now you are ready to call and order your sod for either delivery or pick-up on the day of
your choice. Please keep in mind that you only want to order as much sod as your crew can lay
in a four (4) hour period. If necessary split the amount of sod that you need into multiple
deliveries or pick-ups. This four (4) hour period is not nearly as critical in cool weather but is
extremely important as the temperatures increase.
Now the work begins.
￼Preparation of the site to be sodded is probably the most critical step to the success of the survival of your sod. Sod which is installed over hard compacted soils, sod which is installed over any green material (either weed or grass), sod which is installed over construction debris (gravel, brick, lumber, trash, etc) has very little chance to fully survive and develop into a lawn for which you would desire. Basically, the site preparation is the same for sod as it is for seeding.
When preparing the site, begin with the removal of all trash and building debris such as bricks, concrete, stones, scraps of lumber, stumps, or any other material that is not soil.
Sample and test the soil for all the necessary soil amendments that will be needed to be incorporated into the soil for optimum growth. See our Guideline entitled “Amendments to the Soil” for the procedures for taking proper soil tests, where to have the soils tested, and how to apply the necessary amendments.
Till the soil to a depth of 3-4” using a roto-tiller or similar piece of equipment. Use caution not to till the soil when it is excessively dry or excessively wet. When the soil is either excessively dry or wet, tilling will destroy the structure of the soil, eliminating the pore spaces which are vital for the storage and movement of water and nutrients as well as space for the roots to travel and establish.
Remove any additional debris, weeds, or grass clumps which may have surfaced during the tillage. Apply any necessary amendments which are recommended, from the soil test, to be surface applied.
Hand rake the soil to a uniform, friable surface. This is the stage to be cognizant of the need for any swales or ditches which may be necessary to channel water away from the house, driveway, or other structures. Along the edges of the sidewalks, driveway, street or other areas where people are likely to walk from an impervious surface onto the turf, lower the final grade ½” immediately next to these structures and feather these slopes out toward the main turf area. This will allow the sod to be installed level with these structures and avoid potential tripping hazards and areas where water may collect and freeze during the winter.
If the air and soil temperatures are high (90 degrees or higher), lightly sprinkling the soil with water just prior to installation of the sod will cool the soil and increase the survivability of the sod by providing a better environment for young tender roots.
As the sod is installed, keep a rake handy to remove footprints or tire tracks as you proceed with the installation.
￼Amendments to the soil are almost always necessary to provide the good nutrition which is required for optimum plant growth. The primary nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). These primary elements are found, to some extent, in every soil, however, after many years of farming or wooded plant growth, some of each of these elements has been used up by the growing plants. Thus it is necessary to supplement what is naturally present with additional quantities of these elements. We do this by the application of fertilizer. However, the quantity of fertilizer which is needed is impossible to tell without a soil test.
Soil tests are preformed by several reputable laboratories in the region for a very nominal fee. A list of these labs and their contact information can be found at the end of this guideline. It is strongly suggested you have your soil tested prior to ordering your sod so that you can apply the nutrients which are required for the sod plants and at the same time do not apply excessive amounts of fertilizer which can become detrimental to our waterways and environment. These tests usually take approximately a week to get your results and will in the long run save you money and worry. Simply contact any of these labs, and they will provide you with sample containers and the proper forms for the information they will need to process your sample(s).
To take a soil sample, use a clean bucket and a garden trowel. Survey your area to be sodded. If it all appears to be fairly uniform, a single sample will suffice. If there are marked differences within the area, or you know different areas have been treated differently (i.e. part old garden, part old lawn), then sample each individually. Walk over the area to be sampled and randomly take several trowels full of soil to a depth of three (3) inches, remove any plant material from the sample, and place it in the bucket. Continue this until you have approximately a pint of soil, mix the soil thoroughly, and fill the sample container supplied to you by the laboratory. Seal the container, complete the attached form and ship to the laboratory.
Once the lab has completed the tests you requested, a report will be sent to you along with recommendations as to exactly how much and when to apply the fertilizer.
Now you are ready to visit your local hardware or farm store to buy your fertilizer. The recommendations will likely recommend the use of 10-6-4, 12-4-8, 46-0-0, or a similar looking number. This is the composition of your fertilizer. The first number is the percentage of Nitrogen in the bag, the second is the percentage of Phosphorus, and the last is the percentage of Potassium. Often this is referred to as the N, P & K values.
The other value and recommendation which is found on your soil test report is the pH and the amount of lime which will be required to bring the soil to a slightly acidic condition. Soil acidity or alkalinity is measured by a logarithmic scale known as the pH. Therefore the difference between 6.5 and 6.6 is a significant amount. The scale is represented by 0.0 to 6.9 is acidic, 7.0 is neutral, 7.1 to 14.0 is alkaline. All soils within Maryland and Delaware are acidic by nature. Turf grasses like slightly acidic soils in the range of 6.2 to 6.5. Soils within this range are capable of exchanging the largest amount of nutrients for the plants to use, both the primary nutrients (N, P, & K) and the minor nutrients (like sulfur, boron, manganese, iron, and many others). When the pH becomes very acidic or alkaline, the nutrients are bonded to the soil particles and the plant cannot use them, thus they literally starve to death. Lime therefore is a critical part of the soil amendments.
There are two types of lime which are commonly used for turfgrass, both are ground agricultural limestone, one is calcite lime (high in calcium), the other is dolomitic lime (high in magnesium). Your soil test will recommend which type of lime to use and the quantity necessary. Burnt or Hydrated lime is not recommended for turf grass use.
Ground agricultural limestone comes in three (3) formulations. Pulverized limestone is a very fine powder. It is the cheapest but also the hardest to spread, especially if any wind is blowing. Granular limestone is more the consistency of course sand, however, this formulation is very slow to react as these granules must gradually break down with weathering. Pelletized limestone is the third formulation and that which is most often utilized for turf grasses. Pelletized is actually pulverized lime which has been compressed into small pellets about the size of fertilizer. Pelletized is easily spread, even on breezy days, and readily falls apart to pulverized powder as soon as any moisture is applied.
It is best if lime can be applied and 2-3 weeks later apply the fertilizer. If this time frame is not possible or reasonable, apply the lime, water it into the soil and then apply the fertilizer.
You are now ready to order your sod.
Soil tests should be repeated every 3 years.
￼Installing sod to your site or property can be a very rewarding project that will provide improvements instantly. Not only will it improve the aesthetics and beauty of your home but also improve the environment by reducing erosion and providing millions of plants that will help cool your home and produce oxygen. If the installation is done correctly, it will be a project that will last for many years to come. The simple steps to proper installation of sod are Preparation of the Site, Amendments to the Soil, Measuring for your Sod, Laying the Sod, Rolling the Sod, Watering the Sod and Feeding your Sod. There are individual guidelines available from us to assist you with each of these steps. Here we will concentrate on Laying the Sod. We will assume the soil preparation and amendments have already been accomplished.
Purchase only enough sod to be able to install it all within four (4) hours of having it delivered or picked-up at the farm. This time frame can be expanded if you are doing the project during the ideal times of the year; i.e. in the late fall, winter, or early spring when temperatures are still cool. Sod can even be installed on frozen ground provided the soil preparation and amendments were completed prior to the ground freezing.
Start laying your sod next to a straight edge such as the street, curb, sidewalk, or driveway. To avoid creating a stumbling site, and an area which will collect water, lower the soil level ½ inch along the straight edge pavement and feather the slope back approximately two feet to your original soil level. This will not be visible once the project is complete.
Start with a full roll of sod and roll the entire pad out. Place the beginning edge of the second roll next to the ending edge of the first roll and roll this pad out. Use caution not to allow spaces or cracks between the sod rolls. Also use caution not to overlay the edge of one pad onto the other pad. Sod laid on sod will cause death of the sod area that is over lapped on both strips. Continue this till you reach the end of your first row.
You can trim the last roll of sod, or trim around any obstacle, easily using an old paring or butcher knife. Simply mark or grasp the sod in the area in which it needs to be trimmed and roll the sod back onto itself. Using the knife, cut the sod from the root (soil) side by drawing the knife as many times as need to cut through the roots. Once this is completed the sod can be easily separated by pulling the two pieces apart with a little tension to separate the grass leaves.
Start your second row by taking a full roll of sod laying it next to the first roll in your first row. Now fold the sod back on itself to the middle of the roll. Using the knife cut the roll in half, leaving the beginning half in place and set the other half aside to use as the beginning of the fourth row. Now continue to lay full rolls of sod as you did in the first row, using caution not to leave gaps and avoiding laying sod on sod on both of the edges which are adjacent to sod which is already installed.
Start your third row with a full pad like you did with the first. Start your fourth row with the half pad which was cut to start the second row. Continue this pattern until your project is complete. When finished, the sod should have the same pattern as a brick wall.
If you are installing sod on a slope, such as a ditch bank, install the sod across the slope. The “brick wall” type pattern will prevent water from running straight down the hill between pads. If the slope is steep, it may be necessary to stake the sod in place until the roots have a chance to get established. Non-treated wooden stakes ¾” x ¾” x 6” long work well. They can be installed low enough that mowers can be used over them and, once the sod is rooted, the stake can be removed or driven on into the soil.
Roll the sod with a hand powered lawn roller to insure good soil to sod root contact and water as explained in our other “Home Owner Guides”.
Enjoy your new or repaired lawn with the confidence that you did it yourself!
Rolling the sod is a very important step toward ending up with that “picture perfect” lawn. Rolling the sod ensures the best soil to sod contact so that drying out of the sod roots from air pockets that may exist under the sod are eliminated. If these air pockets are not removed, small to moderate areas of the sod may die from having the roots exposed.
Rolling the sod also levels any small divots, foot prints, or other imperfections that can cause the mowing process to scalp areas of the turf. Scalping areas, when mowing, will also ruin the uniformity appearance of the lawn and may also cause death of that area allowing weeds to get established or at the very least cause unnecessary stress to be placed upon that area of turf.
Most lawn rollers are meant to be filled with water. Start by filling the roller approximately half full. Roll an area of the turf, fold back the sod pad and visually inspect to see if all the deformities in the soil are removed. If all the deformities are not removed, add more water and repeat the above procedure until all are removed.
Once the roller is the correct weight, roll the turf in one direction using caution not to move the sod when turning or changing directions. Once all the turf is rolled in one direction, turn and roll the sod in a perpendicular direction or at least a diagonal direction to the first rolling.
Once this is complete, you may begin watering the new sod.
Rolling may be necessary again in the spring if your soils are prone to freezing and heaving from frost in the soil. This rolling should be done when enough moisture exists to smooth the soil but not so much moisture as to leave ridges from the edges of the roller.
￼The sooner water is applied to your new sod, the better the sod will root and survive. Ideally watering arrosage automatique should start within 2 hours of laying your sod, even if you have not completed your project, go ahead and get water onto the area which is complete.
Watering should always be deep watering utilizing a sprinkler, applying a minimum of ¾ to 1 inch of water at a time. The roots will attempt to follow the water, so if you just sprinkle with a hose or apply just a light application of water, the roots will tend to stay just under the surface and the sod will have a hard time living when the weather gets hot during the summer.
One of the easiest ways to measure the correct amount of water is being applied is to place a tuna fish or cat food can on your lawn and collect water in it until the can is full, then, move the sprinkler and can to another area.
If the correct amount of water is applied, the sod pad should be completely soaked and several inches of the soil beneath should be wet. The area will be “soggy” or even “squishy” to walk on, so it is easier to use multiple cans to collect your measurements (use one each time you move the sprinkler to a new area). Remove the sprinkler from the watered area by pulling it to you by the hose, then pick up the sprinkler and place it on the next dry area to be watered thereby avoiding walking on the wet sod.
Except for the initial watering, all watering should be accomplished during the morning or afternoon of the day. The ideal time to water is during the heat of the day, provided ¾ to 1 inch of water is applied, since the watering also tends to cool the micro climate of the turf. Regardless of when during the day you water, you always want to make sure the turf leaf surface is “dry” before going into the cooler evenings. Limiting the time that the grass leaves have water droplets on them reduces the probability of most lawn diseases.
The number of times it is necessary to water your lawn is dependent upon the temperature. Generally the following schedule should be followed when daytime temperatures are reaching into the high 70’s or 80’s. Remember all watering should be ¾ to 1 inch per application.
Mowing possibly has more to do with the long term survivability of your sod than any other function you will perform. Proper mowing will provide a beautiful, thick, uniform turf. Improper mowing will provide a thinning, weedy, patchy lawn.
Tall fescue sod should be maintained at a height of 2.5 to 3 inches. Usually this is the highest possible setting on most walk behind or push tondeuses. Blade height can be easily measured by placing the mower on a concrete surface, removing the spark plug wire, and measure from the blade tip to the floor. It may be necessary to change spacers on the blade shaft or even replace the mower wheels with larger wheels to obtain the correct mower height.
No more than 1/3 of the blade length should ever be removed at a single mowing. Thus is you are maintaining a 3 inch turf, you should mow when the blade length is no longer than 4 inches long.
It is always best to leave the clippings to naturally breakdown into nutrients and organic matter, however, if due to wet weather, the spring growth gets ahead of you, bring the growth down with multiple mowing until you can achieve the desired blade length. If excessive clippings or windrows of clippings develop, it will be necessary to vacuum or rake the clippings off the turf. Avoiding mowing when the turf is damp will also reduce the accumulation of clippings. Excessive clippings can cause smothering of the living turf and at the very least cause excessive thatch to build up which will slow water movement and may make any applications of pesticides ineffective.
Regular mowing will cause the individual turf plants to spread horizontally by a process called “tillering”. During tillering, new shoots are sprouted from the crown (just above soil level) area of the plant and these new tillers grow as new branches of the plant.
Always mow with sharp blades. If a day or two after mowing, the turf tips appear to be brown, torn, and tattered, your blades are dull. These blades should be sharpened and balanced or replaced with new blades before mowing again.
Mowing is in fact pruning each individual branch of these plants, so avoiding mowing when heat is excessive, above 90 degrees, will improve the health of the plant and the individual mowing.
Mowing should only be done with equipment which is in good repair, all safety guards are in place, and proper safety precautions are taken by the operator including wearing proper shoes and ear protection.
By now you have completed your project, you have repaired or replaced your lawn and it looks wonderful, but you wonder how much fertilizer you should place on top of your new sod. The answer is none at this time!
You have prepared the soil properly, amended the soil with lime and/or fertilizer according to your soil tests, and have installed Maryland Certified Sod. This sod has been grown under the most stringent requirements in the United States to agronomically provide you with the best turf possible for the Mid-Atlantic area. No further applications of fertilizer or lime are required for at least the next 45 to 60 days.
Unless your soil tests require additional applications of a balanced fertilizer (a balanced fertilizer includes a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium i.e. 10-6-4) the next applications should be feeding your lawn with straight nitrogen using a Urea based fertilizer (46-0-0).
If you installed your sod during December, January, February, or March, apply:
Grubs as well as other insects are found on every farm and in every yard in the world. Some are beneficial and some are destructive. However, none seem to get homeowners working on their lawns more excited than White Grubs which most of the time and most of the year are not a detrimental problem.
Most white grubs that are found in turf are Japanese beetle larva. To know if the grub population is a problem you have to understand the life cycle of the Japanese beetle.
During the late spring and early summer you will see the largest accumulation of the ½ inch long, shiny, metallic green and bronze colored adult beetles. This is the period they are feeding on the trees, shrubs, and flowering plants in your yard. During this feeding, they are not affecting or eating your turf. What is happening is that the females will intermittently leave the plants they are feeding on to burrow about 3 inches into the soil, lay a few eggs and return to feeding on the leaves. Each female continues this process until they have laid 40-60 eggs. They usually lay these eggs in the turf because the soil contains more moisture and it is easier to dig.
By midsummer (late June into July), the eggs hatch and the young grubs begin to feed. This is the period that we need to be concerned about potential damage from Japanese beetle grubs. By late fall the grubs will be fully grown and will be about an inch long. To prepare for winter the grubs will burrow 4 to 8 inches below your turf to remain inactive all winter. This insect spends about 10 months of the year under ground.
In early spring, the grubs return to the root zone of the turf and continue to feed on the roots until late spring when they change into pupae. In about 2 weeks the pupae become adults and emerge from the ground to start the cycle again.
This early spring feeding is rarely a cause for concern, as the grubs emerge slowly thus their numbers per square foot are small (usually less than a couple per square foot of sod) and what little feeding that does occur is not damaging due to the rapid growth of your turf during this time of year.
As stated earlier, the time we need to be vigilant and watchful for large grub infestation is midsummer (late June into July); however we still do not want to apply insecticides if they are not needed. The insecticides, along with killing what grubs might be present, also kill the beneficial insects and present a hazard to our environment. Therefore what we need to do is a little scouting to determine if pesticides or treatments are necessary.
Using a shovel cut a hole in your turf 8 x 8 x 3 inches deep. Turn the turf over onto a piece of newspaper and search the root area and soil for any grubs. Multiple the numbers of grubs found by 2.25, the resulting number will be the number of grubs per square foot. Generally you should consider treating your lawn if you determine you have 10-12 grubs per square foot. Replace the soil and the turf and water heavily for a couple days to allow your turf to mend itself.
If you decide that chemical treatment is necessary, you must read and follow all label directions exactly. Remember pesticides (including insecticides) are toxic materials.
At this time, perhaps the most effective chemical insecticide for Japanese beetle grubs is Merit. It is available in both granular and wettable powder formulations. It must be applied when the Japanese beetles are in the larva or grub stage and it must be watered into the soil with plenty of water within 2 days of application. If not watered in, the ultraviolet rays of the sun will begin to break down the active ingredient.
However, there is more and more concern over the serious hazards that insecticides can pose to people, pets, wildlife, and the environment. There is also increasing concern about the fate of insecticides in the environment and the potential for pesticide runoff causing water contamination. Because of these concerns, it is recommended that homeowners consider biological controls for the suppression of insects.
The 2 most common biological controls are bacteria that are not harmful to humans, wildlife, or the environment. In fact these bacteria often are naturally occurring, in limited quantities, in most soils already.
The first bacterium has effectiveness very similar to that of the chemical insecticides. Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) has strains which are selective for Japanese beetles and must be applied while the beetles are in the larva or grub stage. BT is a stomach poison to the grubs they ingest it while they are feeding. It is applied as you would chemical insecticides, including the need for watering.
The other bacterium is used more as a preventative than an immediate control measure. Milky Spore has been used on turf in the United States since the late 1940’s. Just like BT, the grub ingests the milky spore. The spores germinate in the grub’s gut infects the gut cells and enters the grub’s blood stream, where they multiply. The build up of the spores in the blood causes the grub to take on a characteristic milky appearance.
Milky spore bacteria build up in the turf slowly over 2 to 4 years. As the grub ingests the spores, become infected, and die, each releases 1 to 2 billion spores back into the soil. Milky spore is very effective in suppressing large beetle populations but it works best when applied in a community wide treatment program.
Communication and Scouting are probably the two best tools in controlling Japanese beetles. Talk to your neighbors regarding possible solutions for the problem pest. Organize a neighborhood turf and garden group and develop a cooperative watch program utilizing adult traps, resistant plants, and biological controls. Invite local experts to speak, such as extension agents, or representatives from a horticultural society, or personnel from a nearby University or College.
Japanese beetles can be destructive pests of trees, plants, and turf. Elimination of this pest from just your property is not practical or possible and the chances of them returning next year are almost certain. However, following the management options discussed in this “Guideline for Homeowners” will help you reduce the damage that can be inflicted by this pest.