Proper lawn care can protect flowers, plants

A beautiful lawn ties your house and landscape together, serves as the perfect place for kids to play and works incredibly hard for the environment.

But lawns can be breeding grounds for Japanese beetles — the most widespread turf pest in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nearly $500 million is spent each year trying to control the pests at larval and adult stages.

These insects are born killers. That’s because they start out as white grubs — a “C-shaped” inch-long larvae — that live underground and eat your grass roots in the spring.

Then they emerge from the soil in the summer as bright green beetles that like to fly around at backyard parties, irritating your guests.

They also like to eat the vegetables, flowers and trees you planted. The female beetles lay 40 to 60 eggs each on your lawn.

Those eggs become grubs that continue the feeding cycle.

Japanese beetles like to eat tomatoes, roses, willows, wisteria and a host of other flowers, plants and trees. The first plan of attack is to break the beetle’s life cycle while it’s still in the grub stage.

The species of grub that becomes Japanese beetles is just one of several types that damage lawns.

You’ve got a grub problem if you see:

• Dead, brown patches in your lawn. You can literally lift up the grass like a blanket and see the grubs underneath.

• Wilting grass, even when it’s watered.

• Birds, possums, raccoons and other animals digging in your grass to feed on the grubs.

If your lawn has these symptoms, you’ll need to take action fast. One brand of grub killer works in 24 hours. That can help save your grass from serious damage.

Preventive measures: It’s easier to prevent grubs from damaging your lawn by using grub-control products, which create a protective zone to kill the larvae before they eat your grass.

Some brands also will promote stronger grass roots and a thicker lawn.

Proper watering, fertilizing and mowing also can protect your lawn from destructive pests.