Here are answers to our most asked questions about lawn care.   These answers and tips are written specifically for the unique needs for maintaining a healthy lawn in Vancouver’s coastal climate.

Answers and Tip on these Topics:

Cutting Height:  What is the best height?

A height of 2.5 to 3 inches is the recommended height to keep a grass plant healthy. A long grass blade length will promote a deep, strong root system, ensuring that grass is the dominant plant on your lawn.

Cutting Frequency:  How often should we cut our lawns?

It is not recommended that you cut more than 1/3 of a grass blade at one time. A cutting schedule of every 7 days will ensure that not too much is cut at once. Proper fertilization is also important for a healthy grass plant. It is important to choose fertilizers that are predominantly slow release and do not produce a rush of growth.

Fertilization:   What do you recommend for fertilizing?

Fertilization is an important part of maintaining a problem-free lawn. If the grass is strong and healthy, weeds and moss will have a tougher time taking over.  Regular fertilization with a “slow-release” fertilizer is recommended every 6 to 8 weeks. High Nitrogen fertilizer should be used through the spring and summer, and high Potassium fertilizer should be used in the fall to help the plant store food.  Too much “quick-release” fertilizer will cause the grass to grow too fast, and it is also bad for the environment.

Watering:  What tips to you have on water in lawns?

It is important to give your lawn the correct amount of water to maintain its health. Your lawn requires deep watering of about one inch each week. A method of measuring this is to leave a couple of tuna cans in different locations of the lawn the next time you are watering. When the cans are full, your lawn has absorbed its weekly requirement.  If you water less than this several times a week, you promote shallow root growth, and your grass will likely start to brown and go dormant.

What Is Core Aeration?

Aeration is the process of taking a 350 pound machine (aerator), running it over the lawn to remove thousands of tiny dirt plugs, and leaving them on the grass to provide a natural top-dressing. It will look as a gaggle of geese had come and gone!

Most lawns suffer from:

  1. Compaction (from traffic, snow, rain)
  2. Thatch (a build-up off un-decomposed grass clippings and debris)
  3. Lack of micro-organism activity within the soil

All of these contribute to poor lawn appearance.

Aeration improves your lawn by:

  1. reducing soil compaction (immediately)
  2. improving air exchange between the soil and atmosphere (immediately)
  3. reducing water run-off and puddling (immediately)
  4. improving fertilizer absorption (within 2 weeks)
  5. improving rooting (within 3 weeks)
  6. enhancing thatch breakdown (within 1 month)
  7. improving resiliency, cushioning and disease tolerance (within 1 month)

Aeration takes some effort but within 3 weeks your lawn will be healthier, stronger and better looking.

Dog Spots:  How do we deal with dog spots?

The cause of lawn burning is the nitrogen in dog urine. Because dog urine is very high in nitrogen, when a dog urinates, it is similar to pouring liquid fertilizer on the lawn. A little fertilizer is good for the grass, but an excess amount of nitrogen causes nitrogen burn. Before you start implementing changes to correct lawn burn, you need to make sure that your dog is actually the culprit. Several lawn diseases will look like lawn burn, with the small characteristic brown patches. First , make sure that the brown spots are in areas where your dog urinates. Most dogs will have an area in the yard that they choose to use as the ‘bathroom.’ Secondly, make sure that the grass in the brown spots is still firmly attached. Grab a handful and give it a steady pull. If the grass is firmly rooted, then it points to lawn burn. If the whole bunch of grass pulls up, roots and all, then you may be dealing with a grub problem. And thirdly, make sure that your dog is the problem. If your neighbor’s dog is coming into your yard and creating the problem it will not do any good to treat your own dog.

Successfully treating and preventing lawn burn often requires a multi-step approach.

  1. Saturate the urinated spots with water. After the pet urinates, pour several cupfuls of water on the spot to dilute the urine.
  2. Feed a high quality dog food that does not exceed the pet’s protein requirement. High quality foods have more digestible protein sources that are more completely utilized by the pet and create less nitrogenous waste in the urine.
  3. Encouraging your dog to drink more, will help dilute the urine and decrease the risk of lawn burn. Small amounts of non-salted broth in the drinking water may help increase your dog’s water intake.
  4. Train your dog to urinate in a location that is less visible. This approach is very effective for some owners that do not want to add supplements to their dogs’ diet.
  5. Over-seed your lawn with more urine-resistant grasses. The most resistant grasses tend to be perennial ryegrasses and fescues. The most sensitive tend to be Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda.
  6. Reduce the stress on your lawn by not over or under fertilizing and by watering your lawn.
  7. If neighbors’ dogs are causing the problem, you may advise your neighbors of the leash laws. Using a fence or motion-activated sprinkler may be helpful in keeping these dogs off of your lawn.
  8. Brown spots created by lawn burn are not a medical threat to your dog; however, they can be unsightly and potentially expensive to repair. By understanding the cause of these spots, and then making able to a few changes, you should be able to give your dog full range of the yard and still enjoy a trouble-free lawn. For more information, please visit Pet Education.

Chafer Beatle:  How do we solve the Chafer Beatle problem?


A nematode application is an excellent NON-TOXIC way to prevent a serious lawn problem. Nematodes are a natively-occurring microscopic round worm which, when applied at a rate in the 100s of millions to your lawn, are an excellent way to control the chafer grub. The nematodes work to eat the grubs from the inside out. These worms only affect the grubs and are PEOPLE, PET AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE. Lawns without any visible damage may still be infested. Effects of the grub damage may not be visible until late August when it is too late for effective application, so don’t wait to see! Pre-book your application now to ensure your space! Applications will only be done from July 20th until August 10th.


What Control Options are available?
  1. Cultural Control – Maintaining a healthy lawn is your first line of defense against grubs. Healthy, vigorously growing lawns can tolerate more grub feeding, because they generally have more extensive root systems. Proper maintenance of a lawn includes cutting weekly, correct fertilization including aeration, watering, and over-seeding.
  2. Physical Controls – Raise your mowing height to 6 to 9 cm (2.5 to 3 in), since beetles prefer laying eggs on closely cropped lawns. Higher grass blades will also help to protect the soil surface from water loss during the summer, and encourage deeper root growth.
  3. Biological Control – A recent study commissioned by the Western Canada Turf grass Association, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, and several local municipalities (2005), revealed that biological treatments could be very effective at controlling the European chafer population, when used in combination with healthy lawn care practices. According to the study, the most effective biological control measure was the natively-occurring nematode (or microscopic roundworm) Heterorhabditis bacteriophora.The H. Bacteriophora nematode is a cruiser species that actively infects and kills white grubs such as the European chafer grubs. Treatments are most effective if done in late July, after European chafer eggs have hatched and when the young grubs are most vulnerable to nematode attack. Preventative Spraying Preventative spraying is a low cost, high return investment. Damage to your lawn after the laying of the eggs may not be apparent until late August or early September when the application of nematodes is no longer effective. Damage is seen in the fall to early spring when the grubs are full-grown. Feeding continues throughout the winter, except during prolonged periods of freezing temperatures. Under warmer spring weather feeding continues until May when pupation occurs. Choosing not to preventatively spray a lawn may result in a lawn having grubs feed for an entire year before a treatment can be applied. Preventative spraying with nematodes will protect a lawn against potential establishment of large colonies of grubs in a lawn.
Should I Spray?

If you are in an infected postal code you should apply the nematodes to prevent the establishment of a colony in your lawn.

Could I Wait?

If you wait you will not have a chance to control them until July of the next year.

What Effect Will It Have On My Lawn If I Wait?

Your lawn can be ripped out by animals and birds looking for the grubs to feed on.

Will I Have To Spray Every Year?

It is likely that you will need to spray your lawn every year as the beetle is becoming more prevalent.

What If I Decide To Do Nothing?

You could face losing your whole lawn and then have to replace it at a cost that usually will range between $2000 – $4000 dollars depending on the size of your lawn. At this point you will need to start spraying, or the new lawn will be lost. We advocate proper maintenance.

What Will The Spray Do?

We will be applying tens of millions of microscopic round worms called Nematodes. They are a cruiser which means that they will hunt down the white grubs and destroy them.

How can I tell if I have grubs in my lawn?

Checking for the grub in June may be difficult in June as the grub has transformed or is transforming to a beetle. If you have seen damage in the spring you may have the European Chafer in you lawn. You can check for the grub by digging up several test sections in both affected and unaffected areas of your lawn. Using a garden shovel or spade, cut three sides of a 12-inch square. Grasp the open edges and peel back the turf like a carpet, towards the attached side. Look for the white, C-shaped grubs in the soil, and just underneath the newly-exposed turf roots. If you have no clear sign of the any damage you can still do the same tests in several areas. This will only tell you if it is currently in your lawn not the possibility of the adults landing and laying eggs from surrounding infected properties. What If I Have A Lot Of Moss In My Lawn Lawns containing a lot of moss can be quite badly affected by animals looking for grubs. Proper maintenance and treatment of a lawn with a moss treatment program will minimize damage.

Over Seeding:  Should we over seed?

We recommend over-seeding a lawn once a year in the spring. Although this can also be done in the fall, the spring season is the best time as it allows for deeper root development. We recommend the use of a premium seed, as cheaper varieties will have a higher percentage of weed content. Over-seeding will help to produce a lawn that is greener, as well as more resistant to disease and drought.

Weed Control:  What do recommend for weed control?

In most municipalities, pesticides have been banned.

How will you get rid of those terrible weeds without using pesticides?

    1. A thick vigorous lawn is the best prevention against weed invasions.
    2. A thick vigorous lawn will help to prevent weed establishment and growth.
    3. If the grass is strong and healthy, weeds and moss will have a tougher time taking over
    4. A strong grass plant will dominate any weeds
    5. Mow often, but not too short
    6. Keep your soil well nourished
    7. Water deeply but not too often (a dormant lawn welcomes the weeds)
    Hand pull any existing weeds immediately (wet the soil beforehand)
    Corn Gluten Meal is a long-term pre-emergence treatment which will prevent weed seeds from germinating.  It is important to apply Organic Weed Control just as seeds are germinating in the spring and fall.  Results improve after repeated use.

For more information on Corn Gluten Meal and how it works, please visit this website.

Mechanical Weed Removal:  How do you deal with dandelions?

Dandelions are a weed that responds well to mechanical removal when done at certain times.  The most effective time to mechanically remove a dandelion is when it is flowering.  Pulling out dandelions by the roots during the time of flowering will result in a kill of about 80%.