How To Treat Grub Damaged Lawn

Grubs can be annoying, especially when they interrupt a beautiful growing season. If not careful, the infestations can spread quickly, damaging most of your lawn. Frustrating, yes. Incurable? No. 

You’ve fully committed to this grass-growing business. So far, it’s going wonderfully. You’ve taken the proper steps to grow, fertilize, and maintain your grass. Except for the fact that despite your best efforts, sections of your grass continue to wilt and die. Not sure why? Well, it’s more than likely grubs.

What Are Grubs?

Let’s start with the basics; what are grubs? They are the larvae of several types of beetles, including Japanese and June beetles (gross, we know). Beetles lay eggs in soft, lush areas with moist soil and your lawn more than fits the picture. When the eggs hatch, the insects emerge and begin to feed, causing more problems than you probably bargained for. 

In the early summer, beetles emerge and start to party, feeding on the plants in your garden and laying eggs. These eggs hatch in late summer, and suddenly that beautiful lawn of yours is completely dead. In fall, the small white grubs move deep into the soil, protecting themselves from the cold of winter. As soon as spring comes around, they emerge, mature into beetles, and the horrifying process starts all over again. 

We know, it sounds terrible. The good news is, you can end the cycle of grubs and the curse of damaged lawns for eternity. Let’s get started. 

What Does Grub Damage Look Like In A Lawn?

Grub Damage

There are a few different ways to determine whether grubs are the root of the problem. First things first, make sure you have been regularly watering the entirety of your lawn. If the answer to that is a resounding yes, there is a good chance grubs are your problem. Here are a few ways to determine grub damage. 

  • Patches of grass turning brown and never re-greening, even with excessive watering.
  • If the grass is easily pulled up with little to no resistance. 
  • Affected areas have a spongy feel.
  • Small animals such as raccoons digging in the area.

Another telltale way to determine if grubs are the problem is to pull up a small section of the dead grass. The insects can be identified as small white worm-looking creatures. If that’s what you see when you pull up the grass, congratulations, grubs have moved in.  

Minor Grub Infestation: What To Do

If you begin to notice small patches of dead grass, the best move is to take action as soon as possible. This will prevent your entire lawn from dying and probably save a headache. 

  • If the grass in the affected area is completely dead, pull it up to remove it.
  • If it is not loose enough to pull up, use a rake to pull up the dead turf.
  • Rake the area to loosen the soil.
  • Re-seed with the same seed used to first plant the area.
  • Rake the seed in so it sits just below the soil. This helps prevent erosion.
  • Water lightly right after seeding, and continue to water the grass regularly. 

Major Grub Infestation: What To Do

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Now, you might not catch the infestation in time, and that’s ok. If a majority of the lawn is subject to grub damage, the next best option is to start over completely. We know it’s not what you want to hear. But at this point, it will take more effort to re-seed small areas rather than overhauling your lawn. And trust us, it’s a lot easier than you might think. Let’s get started.

  • Rake and Remove – Remove all dead grass, which is likely the entire lawn.
  • Dispose of Grubs – As you remove the dead grass, place any grubs found in a container off to the side (soapy water is good for killing them).
  • Soil Test Kit – While the grubs more than likely did not harm the soil’s overall health, it is possible. To be safe, test the soil, and fertilize as necessary. 
  • Grass Type – Selecting a grass seed that grows in your region is key. Use the same seed if the grass grown before flourished (prior to the grubs). If not, choose a grass seed more suited to your area.
  • Re-seed – After selecting the proper type of grass, spread the seed evenly using a spreader (yes, it probably feels like deja vu). Use the label to get an idea of how much grass seed to spread per square foot.
  • Rake – Care after re-seeding a lawn is essential. Rake the seeds, so they sit about a quarter inch below the soil (or just so they no longer sit completely on top of the soil). This helps prevent erosion.
  • Water – Lightly water the lawn after seeding, and regularly water (about 2 times a day) in the weeks to come. 
  • Establish – To help the new seeds take root, straw can be placed over your lawn.

Aaaand now is the part where we all be patient. It can be a process, but hey, now you’re twice as good at planting grass. Take a moment to appreciate yourself.

How Long Does It Take A Lawn To Recover From Grub Damage?

Though it may take a bit of time, with the proper care, your lawn will recover from grub damage. When it comes to a timeframe, it will depend on the type of grass planted. After re-seeding, your lawn should take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to take a turn for the better. Be patient and water regularly, as the time frame varies based on the grass planted.

How To Prevent Grub Damage

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Now, your lawn has recovered from the damage, and things are looking up (insert a sigh of relief). The good news is, there are ways to prevent grub damage and kill off the grubs. Let’s take a look. 

One of the best ways to rid your lawn of grubs is to use beneficial nematodes. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms, killing off the grub problem without harming anything else. They work by burrowing inside of the grubs and releasing a poison, killing the host. To completely rid your lawn of grubs, this may take a few applications.

Another option is to apply products that include clothianidin or imidacloprid. These reduce grub populations heavily. One thing to keep in mind is that timing is everything. Grubs hatch in late summer, meaning the most effective time to water in the chemical is June or July.