The sun is shining and the thermometer reached 60º. Everyone at my house wants to be outside. I was as enthusiastic as the kids, till I got a good look at the condition our yard. Oh, I wasn’t living with my head in the sandbox, I knew the yard had issues.

From the kitchen window I see;

  • A tree house, under which nothing seems to be growing.
  • Gatherings of last Fall’s leaves (I rake leaves in the Fall. Where these leaves come from is any body’s guess)
  • A sandbox in need of a new cover.
  • Patchy, grub infested grass areas.
  • Empty annual beds.

The kids and I set to work on the exposed dirt problem. (although they don’t really see how exposed dirt is an actual problem.) Their incentive to help cover the dirt came when I said: “I don’t see how we can have an Easter Egg Hunt out here in all this mud.” I’m glad that got them on-board. What they didn’t know was, I was prepared to offer cookies.

Under and around the tree house.

Last Spring, I planted Euonymus fortunei hoping they would travel around, under, and possibly up the tree house structure. The Euonymus is not growing as fast as I had hoped. I haven’t given up on their potential, I’ve just grown impatient with them. We’re installing barrier and mulch for immediate gratification.

The shade and foot traffic has been tragic for the grass. I also think there might be grubs at work in the grass areas. Desperate for a solution, I considered applying an insecticide. Other than water, we’ve never applied anything the lawn. We went to our local Home/Garden Center to look for pest control options. Neither of the boys want to harm the ants, worms, rolly-pollies, or fire flies. So we came back empty handed. Jack wondered out loud if we could just get another mole, “Moles eat grubs Mom. Do they sells moles at the pet store?” Apparently he has not considered what the moles would do to the lawn.

Turns out there are at least two alternatives to poison: Milky Spore and Beneficial nematodes.

Milky Spore is actually a brand name for the spreadable bacteria Bacillus popillae. It’s host specific. It only kills the grubs and won’t bother other “creatures.” My kids lump all the insects, caterpillars and worms into the category; “creatures.” Once established, which can take up to three years, this bacteria remains active year after year.

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on grubs. Like Milky Spore, it’s safe for people, pets, earthworms…”creatures”. This stuff is easily purchased from gardening stores and online garden supply catalogs. Beneficial nematodes acts faster than the Milky Spore, so this is our choice. Again, immediate gratification.

There’s an informative Q&A at GradensAlive.

GA will also help you purchase Beneficial nematodes.

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