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Community and Q&A

Controlling Grasshopper Pests

RICHARD EVANS | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Hello GBA community,

My wife and planted clover seed in lieu of  conventional grass  for our yard.  (New construction)

The idea was to have a yard that doesn’t need cutting, fertalizing, and watering (thereby saving our time and resources- both environmental and financial).  We also hoped it would provide food for local deer, turkeys, etc since we took down some trees.

The plan worked.  The yard looks great and we haven’t touched it.  However, we fear our Cloverfield has spawned an explosion of grasshoppers.  Despite killing scores of them via foot-squash, they keep breeding and multiplying.  This seemed neat at first but they have begun chewing away the gaskets on our triple pane windows.  They have eaten through bug screen under our rainscreen gap and over our windows.

I am tempted to rent a skid steer and scrape off the top soil and replace the lawn with another low maintenance lawn.  Anybody have any ideas?

Zone 6a, mountains of NH.

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #1

    Rick,

    Sounds like something from a horror movie. Are you sure it's just the clover, and that getting rid of it will make an appreciable difference?

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    There are mosses you can use. Moss doesn’t have much in the way of roots though, so it isn’t particularly durable. You do get a green, no-maintenance lawn though.

    You might want to check if there are some plants that naturally repel grasshoppers. I know merigolds are commonly planted around vegetable gardens to help deter some pests, for example.

    Bill

  3. Expert Member
    Peter Engle | | #3

    Wow. Sounds nasty. This good news is that winter is coming and they're all going to die. Of course there's still next year. Grasshoppers tend to run in cycles, and this might just have been one of them.

    A quick google search shows that clover is one of their favorite foods. But they're happy to eat all types of grasses and grains and lots of other green stuff. I'm not sure a different ground cover will make much difference.

    There are organic controls on the market, both for remedial sprays (generally pyrethrins), and for preventive early season sprays.

    If you're set on tearing out the clover and trying something else, you could try Chewings Fescue. It is a turfgrass that naturally grows to about 4" high and stops. It takes a long time to get established, but once it does, it will squeeze out competing weeds. You generally still mow it once or twice a year, but lots less than other turf grasses. You will have to mow anything once or twice a year to control weeds anyhow. A year or two of growing clover will add quite a bit of nitrogen to the soil, so the grass should grow well. You can even let the grass and clover grow together for a few years, with the clover feeding the grass and the grass eventually squeezing out most of the clover.

  4. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #4

    Every monocrop creates an unbalanced ecosystem--even "friendly" crops like clover. It would be a shame to resort to pesticides or sterile landscaping when you may only need a bit of diversity.

    Time also helps; an over-abundance of fauna one year usually results in naturally balancing actions the following year. It doesn't always work, when there is plentiful food and no natural predators. But grasshoppers are an established species and will likely be self-regulating.

  5. johns3km | | #5

    Speaking of turkeys- I had 4 walk down our city street after my seeding started to take off- I think they were grub hunting. Absolutely wrecked lawns up and down the street.

    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #6

      It's Canadian thanksgiving this weekend. I wonder if the had something to do with it?

  6. Expert Member
    RICHARD EVANS | | #7

    Thanks so much everyone for the very helpful replies! (As Always)

  7. user-4053553 | | #8

    "you could try Chewings Fescue. It is a turfgrass that naturally grows to about 4" high and stops"
    What an interesting grass. Where can i get some in Canada i wonder?

  8. JC72 | | #9

    Control methods: Praying Mantis, Birds, Chickens

  9. ERIC WHETZEL | | #10

    You can get "no mow" grass seed mixes from various sites online, including these:

    http://www.highcountrygardens.com

    http://www.prairienursery.com

    And there's no reason you couldn't mix in prairie or meadow flowers, either with a seed mix from a site like http://www.americanmeadows.com or with individual plants purchased from a local plant nursery. If plant height might be an issue, you could concentrate on shorter, 1-2' plants.

    You could also limit the flowers to your backyard if you're worried about the overall look of your "lawn" from the street.

    A book like John Greenlee's American Meadow Garden is great for planning, with excellent photos and project ideas:

    https://www.amazon.com/American-Meadow-Garden-Alternative-Traditional/dp/0881928712/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=john+greenlee&qid=1580583198&sr=8-1

    As Michael points out, you should have fewer pest problems, or problems in general, if you incorporate a wider variety of plants (plus it's arguably more visually interesting).

  10. Deleted | | #11

    Deleted

    1. JC72 | | #12
    2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #14

      I don't know about hedgehogs, but dragonflies don't bother people. In fact, they eat black flies here in Maine, which makes them heroic, in my opinion.

  11. joenorm | | #13

    In California it's common to install astroturf. Some of the newer stuff actually looks pretty good. No mowing required.

  12. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #15

    I don't know about hedgehogs, but dragonflies don't bother people. In fact, they eat black flies here in Maine, which makes them heroic, in my opinion.

  13. ErikOlson | | #16

    What does the native prairie look like in your area? Would suggest working with a company that specializes in prairie restoration to plant your yard.

    This is what I'm planning for my 5 acres in MN.

  14. latinkaone | | #17

    My words may scare you, but the clover you plant can attract grasshoppers and locusts, bee swarms, bumblebees, dragonflies, and sometimes hedgehogs. Of course, all these attacks by various critters will depend on the season. You'd never have as many bees and bumblebees swarming on ordinary grass that you'd buy on a sod farm in the spring as on your beautiful but blooming clover in spring. Clover has very pretty pink or white flowers, which can attract insects that flock to it. Of course, it's not too late to cut down your clover and swap it out for regular turf that will look nice and attractive all year. https://theturfgrassgroup.com/

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