Growing a healthy lawn without insecticides

posted on March 29, 2013 11:37am

Contact:  Beth Stuever
(517) 432-1555, ext. 105, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Homeowners may think that dealing with pesky grubs is inevitable in the quest for a beautiful lawn. But Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs) researchers have come up with a lawn care routine for Michigan homeowners resulting in a green, healthy lawn that can tolerate grubs.

“By following the simple steps we’ve laid out, homeowners can manage a low-maintenance lawn that will be able to stand up against grubs without the use of expensive insecticides,” said Dave Smitley, MSU entomologist.

It starts, he said, by choosing the right grass.

“Kentucky bluegrass and red fescue are the best grasses for this region,” Smitley confirmed. “If managed properly, they produce a large root mass, which is imperative for grub-tolerant grass. The denser the root system, the less susceptible the lawn is to grubs.”

Smitley’s research shows that watering during dry periods, applying a minimal amount of fertilizer (1 pound of nitrogen per year, spread across the growing season) and mowing at 3.5 inches (or at the highest setting on your mower) will keep lawns healthy and free of grub damage.

“Applying more fertilizer is not going to make your grass grow denser roots—it just encourages greener growth on top, meaning more frequent mowing,” he added. “Applying at least 1 pound of slow-release nitrogen three or four times a year starting around Memorial Day and ending around Halloween is sufficient.”

For more lawn care tips or information about other MSU Extension research, visit the MSU Extension website,; to learn about Project GREEEN, visit           

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