How to Get Rid of Lawn Grubs

How to Get Rid of Lawn Grubs

Grubs are a common lawn problem that can make your property an unsightly mess. The larvae of several different kinds of beetles, grubs love living underneath the surface of your lawn. This is because they eat the roots of your grass, leading to ugly brown patches. If you suspect you have this issue, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of lawn grubs.

Luckily, there are a number of different things you can do to drastically reduce the population of grubs in your lawn.

There are natural approaches as well as chemical ones from which you can choose. In this article I’ll help you determine if lawn grubs are in fact your problem, and if you do have a grub issue, I’ll explain your options to remedy the situation.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

How to Determine if Your Lawn Has a Grub Infestation

It’s normal to have worms, grubs, and insects in your soil, and the presence of some grubs doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a problem that requires treatment.

Fall and summer are the times of year at which grubs do the most damage to your lawn, attacking the roots of your grass, and if you see big patches of your lawn that are brown or dying (and you’re sure the grass isn’t simply dormant), this is when you can identify a grub infestation.

Some of the signs of grub infestation are brown patches that are irregular in shape or if your lawn just appears generally unhealthy. There may also be small holes in the ground in which animals have been doing some digging.

And if you suddenly notice mole tunnels in your yard, they may have shown up because there’s a grub buffet below the grass.

If your lawn looks like this do the following:

How to Check Your Lawn for Grubs

  1. First use a spade to remove a square foot area of your sod. Dig about three inches in depth, and you should begin cutting it from the middle of one of the brown patches you’ve noticed.
  2. Spend time looking through this piece of sod, checking for larvae. The larvae will look like a “C” in shape and are a light white in color. They might be between a half an inch and a full inch long.
  3. If there are at least five grubs in the square foot of sod you check, you probably have a problem with grubs that will require treatment.

How to Get Rid of Lawn Grubs: Your Options

You have a few effective options that will eliminate grubs in your lawn.

Ways to Get Rid of Lawn Grubs
Relying on hungry birds is not the most effective way to get rid of lawn grubs.

Applications of Milky Spore

Bacillus popilliae spore (also called milky spore) is one substance you can use on your lawn that will help to eliminate grubs. You can find this at a home or garden center or online (this one is my go-to).

Milky spore creates a condition in your lawn called milky disease. Milky disease is a bacterial environment that kills grubs but won’t cause any damage to your grass.

This is only a good treatment if you’re in it for the long haul, though. It will take up to about three years for there to be a sufficient number of the helpful spores to rid your lawn of grubs.

The work and wait are worth it, though, as the milky spore will permanently keep grubs away once it’s embedded in your lawn.

Beneficial Nematodes

Nematodes is another type of treatment you can use. If you’d like, you can use this simultaneously with milky spore.

Beneficial Nematodes are tiny, parasitic worms. They attack grubs, eventually killing them. To use nematodes by putting them in water and shaking, and then applying it to your grass.

Like milky spore, this is a long-term treatment. It may take up to three years of using this for your grub problem to finally be resolved.

Thing to Remember When Treating Your Grub Problem

With any sort of treatment (in particular with any chemical treatment like this one), make sure to keep kids and pets off of the area until the lawn completely dries.

Keep Kids and Pets off Lawn After Treating for Grubs

With chemical treatments, make sure to check the instructions on the product, as they may call for you to keep kids and animals away from the lawn longer than that. The reason why you should keep kids and pets away from the grass while it dries even when using natural products, is because they will be most effective if you let them properly sink in without disruption.

And please read this article about when to treat your lawn for grubs, if you’re wondering what time of year will be most effective.

Other Tips to Prevent and Treat Grub Infestations

The height you mow your grass matters, and I recommend that you always keep your grass a minimum of two inches in length.

This is important for a variety of reasons, but when it comes to grubs, and other lawn pests, longer grass is better. Beetles and some other insects prefer not to lay their eggs in longer grass.

Lawn Grub

Also, consider watering your lawn less frequently. Grubs prefer very moist soil, so you want to keep it as dry as you can without negatively affecting your lawn health (grass does require water after all). But watering less is especially important while you’re in the process of treating your grub problem.

July and August are the months during which it’s most important to keep your lawn as dry as possible. This is the time at which the eggs most often hatch, so you want to make things as inhospitable for the grubs as possible.

It’s best to fertilize your lawn in the fall. You should seed it at that point, as well. This will help to deal with damage that grubs have caused. It will also cause problems for the beetles when they try to lay new eggs.

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Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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