Deer Resistant Plant Publications click HERE
Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties are in a "transitional zone" for growing grass. This means that both "cool season" grasses and "warm season" grasses can survive here. The most common and best able to survive "cool season" grass is "tall fescue." By following these practices, one can expect a nice turf grass to grow if enough water is made available when needed by the grass. Due to our current climate conditions please consider not applying fertilizer from March through August as it can harm the Bay and the Rappahannock via run-off, and your lawn during the summer heat and dry period.
Feb24-Mar 10: Crabgrass Pre-Emergent: Apply the first pre-emergent crabgrass control between the middle of March and the middle of April to control crabgrass and many grassy weeds. Crabgrass begins to emerge when the soil temperature reaches 55 Degrees. This is about the time the forsythia bloom. A product containing "Dimension" will be active for up to 4 months and will act as both a pre-emergent and a post-emergent for new crabgrass seedlings. You may be able to purchase products containing Dimension at Home Depot, Lowes, Site-One, Roxbury, or other garden centers.
April 1-May 1: Spring Season-Long Broadleaf Weed Control
Apply a season-long broadleaf weed control when you see weeds growing (April-May). Be sure to spray when the wind is not blowing. Look for a product that will kill and prevent weeds for up to 6 months-this is a hose-end spray bottle. Recommend using "Bayer Advanced Season-Long Weed Control." This is the only product that has both pre- and post-emergent capability. Bayer Season-Long Weed Control can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, and Roxbury.
May-June: Second Pre-Emergent Crabgrass Control (60-75 days after first application)
Apply a second pre-emergent crabgrass control to prevent the late germinating grassy weed seeds from germinating (seeds germinate throughout the spring and summer). Recommend using products that contain “Dimension.”
September: (before spreading compost and seeding): Core Aeration
Enrich your lawn soil by using a core aerator that also removes plugs of soil. Moisten soil to allow the aerator to penetrate properly; but never aerate soggy ground. Go over the lawn 2 or 3 times for best results. This is the best thing you can do to improve your lawn.
September: Spread Compost (before seeding)
Apply between ¼ and ½ inch of compost (e.g. Leafgro® or a bio-compost) after aerating. Don't completely cover the blades of grass. Apply by sprinkling from a shovel or by hand or dumping a wheelbarrow full and raking it out. Compost alone will thicken and green the lawn.
September: Seeding (September) and Starter Fertilizer (do not seed if you use a pre-emergent weed control)
Sow grass seed after aerating and/or applying compost for optimal soil contact. Over-seed existing lawns with two to four pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn depending on your grass coverage. The best grass for our area is tall fescue, which resists disease and tolerates wear. The Virginia-Maryland National Turf Grass Evaluation Program recommends Rebel or Pennington and many other varieties of seed. Make sure the seed is "certified" and that you have not gone beyond the "Expiration date." After seeding take a leaf rake, turn it over, and gently pull it over the seed for optimal soil contact. Then water your lawn daily to keep the soil and compost moist until the seed germinates in about 2 weeks.
September-October-November (SON): Fertilize
Beginning in September, apply three applications of a premium slow-release fertilizer ensures optimum root growth in the fall and again next spring. A full application each month will help your root system to grow deep enough to live through our increasingly hot summers. If you reseeded or over seeded your lawn use a "Starter Fertilizer" in September.
October 15-November 1: Fall Season-Long Broadleaf Weed Control
Second broadleaf weed control: See April Broadleaf Weed Control for recommendations. Caution: Do not apply any weed control within three weeks of seeding your lawn. Recommend using Bayer Season-Long Weed Control. In addition to following the above program you will have to do spot weed control for both broad leaf and grassy weeds throughout the growing season. Look for a spray bottle that will control both types of weeds.
Lawn Mowing, Lime Application, and Soil Testing
Proper, regular mowing with a sharp blade is also essential. Set mower height to 3 to 4, inches, and cut no more than one-third of the grass blade height. Taller blades provide more leaf surface for photosynthesis, while scalped areas invite competition from crabgrass and broadleaf weeds. Have your soil tested to determine what additives are needed. Pick up a soil testing kit at the plant clinic at the Center on Monday mornings or at the Virginia Cooperative Extension office in the Rowser Building on Route 1.
We sharpen lawn mower blades and gardening tools at the weekly plant clinics in the Center on Monday Mornings. We make house calls to assess problems, prune trees that overhand the sidewalks, and to give yard and garden recommendations. These services are FREE. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Chuck Heath, Certified Master Gardener and Tree Steward.