UGA’s Bugwood Image Cooperative
May 23, 2017
U of Nebraska Lawn Care Research
May 23, 2017

The University of California has launched a Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program with the aim of helping homeowners deal with yard care safely and effectively. It is one of the most comprehensive online resources when it comes to information about sustainable lawn maintenance, turf care, and weed control. If you’ve got any questions, you’ll find the answers here.

The program brings together knowledge from a large number of UCal scientists. It is committed to developing fully integrated pest management strategies, which work in conjunction with the land and do not have a detrimental effect on its health. With the support of Local Cooperative Extension Offices, it hopes to change the way we treat our environments.

About the UCal IPM Program

The IPM Program is a part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UCal. It is directed and managed by a core team of agricultural experts. They are responsible for developing eco-friendly pest control strategies that can be used by farming operations, urban planners, lawn services, pest control companies, and homeowners.

This information is available to gardeners nationwide. It champions the use of biological measures to control pest numbers and minimize the impact of weeds. For instance, homeowners don’t always realize that chemical pesticides also decimate helpful, valuable insect communities that feed on pests.

Lawn Maintenance Research

The UCal IPM website provides comprehensive information on the following topics. If you are planning to hire a lawn care service, you might want to consult these pages for advice on important things to consider.

Lawn Maintenance

There is an awful lot to learn about lawn maintenance, no matter where you are in the United States. Fortunately, the UCal IPM website contains pretty much everything you could ever need to know. This page is a great place to start for anybody interested in growing turfgrass and having a perfect, green lawn. If you currently work with a lawn care service, you can expect qualified professionals to have extensive knowledge of lawn fertilization, aeration, mowing, watering, and weed control techniques. To answer any questions about the quality of the service, all you have to do is research the necessary areas.

Identifying Turfgrass

The best way to care for a lawn is to identify its needs. You can only do this if you know what type of grass you’re dealing with. Identification is the first step for any good lawn service, and the UCal IPM website is here to help homeowners get up to speed. This page contains images of the most common turfgrass species so that you can make comparisons with your own lawn. There are also technical drawings of each species and a breakdown of its characteristics. There are sixteen turfgrass varieties featured. They include hard fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, Buffalo grass, zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, and more. You’ll also find a detailed chart demonstrating which of these species are best suited to hot, dry conditions.

Photo Directory of Weeds

For a list of weeds common to Californian gardens, consult this photo directory. It provides tips on identifying various aquatic, sedge, grass, and broadleaf species. There are color images of each plant and a detailed account of its features, habitat, and reproduction methods. This is not a complete list, but you are encouraged to contact UCal IPM if you have questions about a weed that is not featured. Once you know what type of species you are dealing with, you can think about putting together a sustainable, effective system of weed control.

Weed Management

The weed management page is where you need to go for practical tips on lawn treatments to rid lawns of weeds. Many of the methods recommended here focus on the use of sustainable techniques. They include irrigation, lawn fertilization, mowing, and aeration strategies. There is also information on the use of pre and post-emergent herbicides which are needed for comprehensive weed control. This page recommends specific lawn treatments based on weed problems and provides lawn spraying protocols.

Managing Weeds, Insects, and Diseases

This page is a more general guide to some of the things which could be holding the health of your lawn back. If your grass is looking a little lackluster, but you don’t know why, use it to diagnose the problem. You’ll find information on weeds, pests, and common lawn diseases. Once you have identified the issue, you can navigate to the related page and read about viable solutions. For instance, if you’re dealing with a crane fly infestation, clicking on the Crane Fly link will give you a guide to effective methods of control. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as changing the way you mow the grass to simple lawn treatments that you can attach to your hose. On this page, there are color images of some common mowing mistakes. Scalping, for example, occurs when lawns are cut too short and vulnerable parts of the plant are exposed.

Invasive Weeds, Insects, and Diseases

Not all weeds, pests, and grass diseases are native to California. Some species have been unintentionally brought to the region by animals or people. Others were purposely introduced but proved challenging to control and are now classed as ‘invasive’ organisms. Invasive species can be extremely tough to control. However, if left untreated, many have the potential to cause substantial damage to local ecosystems. On this page, you’ll find a link to advise on the best ways to prevent these organisms from entering your garden. If you only plant native species, you’ll reduce the risk of fast-growing, land-hungry varieties from taking over. You can also report sightings to your local UC Cooperative Extension Office or Agricultural Commissioner. Consult the Invasive Species page for color images.

Natural Enemies Gallery

This next page is a valuable resource for gardeners who want to implement sustainable pest control plans. The term ‘natural enemy’ refers to an organism that either eats or creates a hostile environment for unwanted pests. They include fully grown insects and pest parasites. The page contains a comprehensive list of common enemies so that you can identify the ones which are present in your garden. If you do find them, you have an opportunity to minimize the impact of pests without using chemicals. Green Lacewings, for example, feed on a variety of destructive garden pests. However, they do not cause harm to plants. Be careful not to confuse them with Lace Bugs, which is a different insect and a damaging pest. Consult the gallery of images to identify friendly visitors.

Lawn Fungus Directory

The most common type of lawn disease that lawn services deal with is lawn fungus overgrowth. The UCal IPM website also contains advice on dealing with common lawn fungi. These are different from grass diseases, and most are benign. These species do not cause damage to lawns and can actually boost their health by releasing additional nutrients into the soil. The problem with fungi is that they rarely look pretty. The majority of gardeners would rather remove them, benign or otherwise because they spoil the appearance of lawns. In a few cases, they make the grass vulnerable to disease, so control is advised. This page contains color images of some common lawn fungi. It also provides information on the best ways to remove them. It is important to stress that mushrooms are only the visible part of the organism. Handpicking them may have no effect on their ability to regrow.

Tree and Shrub Gallery

This page contains a very detailed list of the tree and shrub species found in California. Just click on the common name of a tree to find out what it looks like, what conditions it prefers, and whether or not it is vulnerable to certain pests. There are color photographs of all the species so that you can identify unknown plants in your garden or neighborhood. If you are interested in growing a specific type of tree or shrub, the guide will help you decide if it is a practical choice.

Lawn Repair

In cases where a lawn has been severely damaged, either by disease, drought, or pests, it may be necessary to remove the dead grass altogether. Usually, full lawn renovations are only carried out when the extent of the damage is too costly to repair. If it is going to be cheaper to remove the old lawn and plant a new one, this is what a lawn care service will recommend you do. It doesn’t take as long as you might think, especially if a living turf is introduced to the soil. It is the fastest method of renovating a lawn. However, you can choose to start the grass from scratch as well. This page provides plenty of information on preparing the soil for new seeds. You’ll also find advice on sowing, planting, watering, and raising vulnerable seeds to adulthood plus a variety of other lawn maintenance related advice.