The fall lawn season is nearly upon us and after the long, hot, Hampton Roads' summer, it's time to start preparing for re-establishing your lawn or maybe preparing for a new lawn. We want you to be prepared when the weather cools in September to easily be able to lay your seed and have the lush lawn you have always wanted.
Cool Season Lawns:
Cool season lawns thrive in cooler temperatures that range from 55-75 degrees. In the Hampton roads area, we recommend fescue as the best lawn seed or sod for this area. Fescue has the best heat tolerance of all cool season lawns and actually loves our cool winter weather as well.
Fall is the best time to establish a fescue lawn as summer will be the furthest season away from when you first start the young lawn. Starting in the fall allows for root development, better utilization of fertilizer and longest the time to establish before summer comes around again.
Preparing to seed:
Whether you need to start from scratch or you just need to get ready to seed, there are lots of things you can do now to get ready before it is time to seed.
Starting From Scratch:
There are many reasons you may want to start a lawn from scratch. For many of you this may be your first lawn, and it's always easier and more economical to start from scratch. You may have more weeds then lawn - a general rule of thumb is 50% weeds or more in the lawn you will save time and money starting from scratch. You may have a mix of different types of grasses. In this case, lawns look uneven due to different growth rates, and you will also see different textures and different colors of green. Having one type of grass is much more appealing to the eye. If you decide to start from scratch, come in a let us get you started, the sooner you start the sooner you will have a new lawn this fall. The biggest step in starting from scratch is killing the existing weeds and lawn. Hi Yield Killz All is the best complete killer, a non-selective weed and grass killer, will kill whatever you spray it on. It has the highest active ingredient than any other brand on the market for the price. Killz All is a great value and a great way to get the unwanted grass and weeds dead to the root. Starting early allows time for multiple sprays if needed.
Check your pH:
Knowing your soil pH is very important to maintaining and establishing a lawn. If your pH is too low or too high then weeds will grow better and lawn grasses like fescue won’t be able to get nutrients out of the soil or out of the fertilizers you apply. In Hampton Roads, our soil is mostly acidic, and usually ranges between a 4.5 to a 5.5, which means your lawn can not get 30%-70% of the fertilizer you put down. We offer free pH testing in all three of our year-round locations. If your pH is low, then applying Mag-I-Cal will raise your pH much faster then normal lime with a fraction of the weight, 1 bag of Mag-I-Cal is equivalent to 200 lbs. of lime. It will change your pH in 4-6 weeks where pelletized lime takes 6-8 months.
Invest in your soil:
You should invest as much in your soil as you do in your lawn seed and fertilizer. Your soil is where the lawn will live and thrive over the years, so making sure your soil is in good health will insure a healthy lawn. McGill compost is a great local compost that can be applied as a thin layer across the lawn or bare ground that will act as a perfect seed bed when you lay your seed. Love your Lawn Love your Soil literally feeds your soil microbes therefore making your soil less compacted, more nutrient rich and will help in root development in your new lawn.
Tilling, Aeration and Dethatching:
While these techniques may be important in some cases, it is not recommended to do them on a regular schedule and definitely not every year. Tilling is usually done when starting from scratch, as it will loosen hard soils and allow for grass to be raked up when done. We only recommend tilling if you need to level bumps or waves in your soil level and rather then tilling you can smooth out a soil level by adding topsoil to low spots. Tilling will also stir up the soil and bring weed seeds to the top surface where they can now germinate, thus causing a larger more significant weed problem. Aeration is only recommended when soil has become very compacted, and using Love your Lawn Love your Soil twice a year will give you similar results and keep your soil loose and porous. Dethatching is only needed when thatch becomes a problem. Thatch is caused by the build up of grass clippings underneath the lawn that will restrict air flow and nutrient penetration. Using a bagger when mowing the lawn will help prevent thatch build up, and may completely eliminate the need for dethatching. You can use your lawn clippings to start a compost pile that you can use around the yard and garden. Applying a thin layer of compost can also help biodegrade your thatch build up and supply rich nutrients and organic matter to your soil.
If you have a few weeds or crabgrass issues, then now is the time to take care of those, as you need to allow for 2-4 weeks before applying seed. Fertilome Weed Free Zone and Weed Out with Crabgrass Killer are the two best to accomplish this. They are selective herbicides that will eliminate the weeds but not harm your existing fescue. These can be done now so you are ready to overseed and fill in bare spots this fall.
See You Soon:
Lawn Care supplies are fully stocked in our three year-round locations in Hampton, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Please come in and talk to a lawn care expert about how we can help. FREE lawn Classes will be held every Saturday, at all locations this fall beginning September 10th through October 8th, at 11am.