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Grub control: Easily sold and controlled

January 19, 2021 -  By
Tim Koehler in front of LDS truck (Photo: Landscape Design Services)

Active approach Tim Koehler of Landscape Design Strategies says his company takes a preventive approach to grub control. (Photo: Landscape Design Services)

There’s not much stress when it comes to talking grub control with customers.

Tim Koehler, maintenance manager for Landscape Design Strategies (LDS) in central New Jersey, says that grub control is the easiest package he sells customers.

“If you have grub damage, you just have to lift up the turf, and they’re right there,” he says. “They’re in plain sight. (If it’s) a lawn disease, customers think you’re making it up. But grubs, everyone knows them. Most homeowners hear the word ‘grub’ and they know what we can do, and they know they can be devastating and ruin a lawn.”

The problem is that in healthy lawns, grubs often come back, and repetition is necessary to keep them at bay, says Jeri Moon of Green Dream Landscaping, Richmond, Va.

“The grubs always come back, it’s just a matter of time. I’m not that cruel when I tell (customers) a treatment is going to work, but it’s only going to work for a little bit of time,” Moon says. “It’s like anything else — it’s a maintenance, it’s not a one-and-done, just like termites or any other critter you want to keep away from your home.”

Moon, production manager for Green Dream Landscaping, says customers
are always quick to take advice and follow suit when it comes to grub control.
Jason Downing, president of Accurate Lawn & Irrigation in Council Bluffs, Iowa, agrees and is sure to include grub control as a standard part of his lawn care programs.

“In our part of the country, grubs are prevalent,” Downing says. “Eight, 10 years ago, it was an expensive application, but it’s gotten cheaper. Now, it’s a standard in all our packages.”

Preferred lawn care strategies

Koehler happily reports that within his customer base at LDS — which is almost entirely residential — grub concerns are mostly a thing of the past. The only complications these days are if a customer wants to wait to treat until after grub pressure arises or pursue an organic option.

“In my opinion, the preventive approach is the best way to go,” Koehler says. “You want to include it in your program because the minute you don’t, there are going to be some negative side effects. You’ll get grubs and the customer is paying you for a program and now says, ‘How come you’re not treating for grubs?’”

LDS uses imidacloprid and chlorantraniliprole for preventive applications. If a customer pushes to wait for visible damage before making a grub application, Koehler is prepared for that discussion.

“Your timing has to be on point,” he says. “We use (Dylox) as a curative; you have to make sure that the customer is home and can water it
in within 24 to 48 hours. It’s photosynthetic, which will break down in the sun if you leave it there for three or four days — then we laid it down and it’s pointless, and it’s a more expensive product.”

LDS offers an organic option at a 20 percent markup to customers who want to pursue it. But, let’s just say that’s not Koehler’s preferred lawn care strategy.

“There are a decent amount of organic products out there,” Koehler says. “What we found is one application isn’t enough. Then you’re doing two. If the customer wants the organic approach, that’s fine … but they’ll be paying more.”

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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