Lawn Care Tips
September 26, 2018
Lawn Care Tips for the Fredericksburg, Virginia area
“Start from the ground up” – LOCAL SOIL CONDITIONS
Fredericksburg, Virginia is a transitional region where it is too far north for optimum growth of southern grasses and too far south for northern grasses. This does not mean you cannot have a nice lawn. Proper timing is everything. Successful lawn care is obtainable.
Most of us have extremely dense clay with a low amount of organic matter (something previously living such as decomposed leaves). Improvement may be made to the soil by incorporating topsoil and/or compost into the top 4-6 inches.
The soil in this region is generally very acidic (low pH, lack of calcium). Lime is what is used in very large quantities to correct this problem. A soil test is the only way to know your true pH. Undeveloped land may have a pH as low as 5 (7 being neutral). To correct deficiency, multiple applications may be necessary (spaced 3 months apart).
Stop by our store and pick up a Virginia Tech soil sample box. Just follow the directions and send the sample off to Virginia Tech with their required fee. We try to keep sample boxes on hand for your convenience.
Some Basic Keys To Successfully Growing A Lawn
It is important to measure the square footage of your lawn, to know the proper amount of lawn products to use.
Mow your cool season grasses at the highest or next to highest setting. The bulk of your grass roots are the length of your grass blades.
Mow frequently with a sharp blade. Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blades in a cutting. Removal of more than 1/3 of the blade can “shock” the grass and slow its recovery.
Do not collect the grass clippings, unless clippings are excessive. They add valuable organic matter to your soil. Most of the nitrogen in a grass plant is stored in the tip of the leaf, so why buy fertilizer and then haul it away in grass clippings?
Use a good feeding schedule with slow release fertilizers. Feed heavily in the fall and little or none in the spring.
Aerate (mechanically loosen) the soil once a year. Fall is the ideal time for aerating.
In periods of drought water deeply and infrequently. Water early in the morning so the leaves will dry off before the sun goes down to reduce disease activity. A half an inch of water twice a week is about the right amount. Grass can survive for quite some time without water by going dormant.
When the little guy on the radio is telling you to feed your lawn on Memorial Day, ignore him. He doesn’t live in Fredericksburg.
Annual Lawn Maintenance
Spring – Crabgrass control from March through June with pre-emergent crabgrass control beginning in late March, with a second application in mid-May, and post-emergent selective broadleaf weed control as needed during the growing season. Growing grass is generally a competition for space. Something will almost always grow on bare ground, so keep the weeds out and the grass growing.
Fall – Seeding & Aeration – September through early October are the best times to seed your lawn for full root development. Fall aeration loosens compacted soil and should be done prior to over-seeding. Well planned fall weed control is also worthwhile, but must be done at least 3 weeks prior to planting grass seed.
FEEDING SCHEDULES for cool season grasses such as tall fescue & ryegrasses:
Early September – Full feeding
Mid-October – Full feeding if you have a sports field or want to have a “showcase” lawn.
Thanksgiving – Full feeding. The slow release nitrogen is your spring nutrient.
Use little or no fertilizer in the spring to avoid promotion of diseases.
Use a good quality, slow release fertilizer providing one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
Some of our recommended turf fertilizers are:
50 pounds Proscape 10-0-4 for 5,000 square feet of coverage at a pound of nitrogen per 1,000
50 pounds Roxbury Turf Special 16-0-8 for 8,000 square feet of coverage at a pound of nitrogen per 1,000
50 pounds Proscape 32-0-6 for 16,000 square feet of coverage at a pound of nitrogen per 1,000
For fine fescues such as hard fescue and Creeping Red fescue or for warm season grasses such as Zoysia or bermudagrass check with us for a feeding schedule. Their fertilization needs are entirely different than those of tall fescue of ryegrass.
What kind of seed should I use?
Cool season (Northern) grasses consist of Tall Fescues, Ryegrasses, Fine Fescues, and Bluegrasses. Bluegrasses and ryegrasses are less heat tolerant than tall fescues, but they do come in handy in some applications.
Tall Fescues are sun lovers with a good shade tolerance, such as Kentucky 31 and Winning Colors Turf Type Tall . Hundreds of varieties of “Turf Type Tall Fescues” are available. Kentucky 31 is a forage grass, thus it is much coarser than turf types, and is not generally recommended for lawns.
Warm season (Southern) grasses consist of Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass. For this region Zoysia and Bermuda grasses are winter-hardy varieties. They enter dormancy from October to May. They are invasive around flowerbeds.
Fine Fescues are hardy for shady or low maintenance areas such as steep slopes. Creeping Red Fescue is good for dense shade.
We also offer a blend of grasses called Roxbury Lawn Grass, which is immensely popular in this region for sunny to partly shaded areas. Use our Roxbury Shade Mix on shady lawns.
Quick Seed Guide
- Roxbury Lawn Grass consists of65% Turf Type Tall Fescue, 20% Perennial Ryegrass10% Creeping Red Fescue and 5% Kentucky Bluegrass
- Full sun – partial shade: Turf-Type Tall Fescue Blends such as “Winning Colors Tall Fescue” featuring varieties on the Virginia Tech recommended variety list.
Dense shade under heavy tree canopies:
- Creeping Red (Fine) Fescue or Proscape Shady blend. Theses grasses don’t do as well in heavy sun or traffic conditions.
- Perennial Ryegrass, will need summer irrigation.