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Find lawn care tips for your yard

By Joshua Holland

Whether you are establishing a new lawn or renovating an existing one, deciding which type of grass to plant will be the first step. No one type of grass is best suited to all situations. A number of factors should be considered before deciding which lawn grass to plant. Your decision should be based on region, climate, intended use or wear at the site, and desired appearance.

Both cool-season (northern) and warm-season (southern) grasses are grown in Virginia. Cool-season grasses grow best in the spring and fall and less actively in the summer. They stay reasonably green in the winter. Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue and perennial ryegrass are common types of cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses are slow to green up in the spring, grow best in the summer, and go dormant after the first heavy frost.

Also consider the characteristics of each site and your goals to determine which types of grass are appropriate. Choose the grass that best meets your preference for color, density and texture. Choose a tough, aggressive, wear-tolerant grass where heavy traffic is expected. And consider the amount of time, effort, and money you are willing to spend for turfgrass maintenance.

A soil test should be made at least every two to three years to determine the amounts of lime, phosphorus, and potassium needed by your established lawn.  Soil test kits can be picked up from the Southampton County Extension Office and provide a snapshot of the health of your soil under your lawn.

Weeds occur in any lawn, but a thriving turfgrass lawn naturally crowds out most weeds. Choosing a proper location and turfgrass variety and preparing the site before planting gives the lawn the best possible start. Once established, paying close attention to adequate moisture, proper fertilization, and frequent mowing (at no more than 50 percent of the height of the grass blades) keeps the turfgrass in top condition. Frequent mowing also stops weeds from flowering and going to seed. Turfgrass that is stressed from drought or overwatering, burned from too much fertilizer, or stressed from scalping is much more likely to struggle with weed populations. Compaction also negatively affects turfgrass causing weeds to more easily establish themselves. Young and actively growing weeds are easiest to manage. Removing weeds by hand as they appear, and before they flower and set seed, can be an effective technique for a small area. If an herbicide is used, make sure that the soil is moist several days before application. Carefully read and follow directions and precautions on the herbicide labels. Treat only those areas that need it.

For more information contact the Southampton County Extension office at (757) 653-2572 or jaholland@vt.edu.