It's time to kickoff the fall lawn season. Over the past 70 years, we've gathered valuable information and products to help you establish and maintain successful lawns here in Hampton Roads. We've devised some simple steps to help you get your lawn looking its best. Hampton Roads is considered a transitional zone, meaning you can grow both cool season lawns (fescue) and warm season lawns (Bermuda, St. Augustine, Centipede, and Zoysia). Fall is the best time in this area to establish and repair the fescue lawn. During fall, the soil temperature cools down rather then heating up, so you will get a better germination and a quicker establishment. We also get more rainfall in the fall on a more consistent basis which aides in establishment of the new seedlings. Summer is the hardest season on fescue lawns and therefore planting in the fall gives the longest time before summer will come around again. Root development also occurs on all plants in the fall, which is vital when starting a new lawn.
To help you on your road to lawn success, we've developed easy-to-use lawn kits specifically formulated for Hampton Roads. In addition we're offering complimentary lawn classes every Saturday at 11pm from September 12-October 10. September and October are the best months to come on in and get the information and products you need to make your lawn a success!
Our Grass Seed: McDonald Tall Fescue Mix is comprised of three different types of tall fescue. Every year we evaluate the different types of fescues that go into our mix. They are chosen based on different genetic strengths such as drought and heat tolerance, deep green color, natural disease and insect resistance, and sun and shade tolerance. We are always striving to have the best grasses that have been tested in this area. We use the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Turfgrass Variety Recommendation list to aide us in making that decision. The list is comprised of 55 different types of tall fescue. Because our varieties of fescue grass seed have been tested in this area, we are confident they will help make you successful when working on lawn repairs or establishing new lawns.
The Cooperative Extension and McDonald Garden Center believe that a mix of three different types of tall fescues gives the homeowner the highest success rate. When you have a mix of different varieties of fescue you get all the benefits and characteristics you need to have a great lawn, where as one type of fescue will never have all the characteristics that make a great lawn. Some varieties of fescue have also been known to get diseases or be more susceptible to insects as they become more widely used. This is also why we use three different types, because if one variety has an issue many years from now, then you will not experience total lawn loss. With one variety of grass seed, you run the risk of losing everything if this were to occur.
Our grass seed is very fresh and has the highest germination rate available in this area of 92%. It has no fillers and no other types of seed. Most blends have bluegrass (poa annua) and perennial rye in them, which both perform poorly. Both will die off in the summer leaving blank areas that weeds will quickly grow into. They also both seed very quickly, causing discoloration during seed production, and then they re-germinate in the fall, choking out your fescue. (If you have issues with perennial rye and blue grass (poa annua) in the lawn we offer solutions to the problem.)
Soil: When establishing a lawn in the Hampton Roads area you must always consider what is supporting the lawn. The soil becomes a vital part in how successful a lawn will be. We recommend getting a free soil test at any of our locations to determine your pH. Having the right pH will decrease weed levels and increase the nutrient uptake of the grass. Our soil is naturally low in pH which encourages weed growth and doesn’t allow the grass to get the nutrients it needs to survive. Organic matter is also very important to obtaining a strong root system and water retention. By adding a thin layer of compost (1/2-1/4inch deep) to the top of your new lawn or over your existing lawn will naturally aerate and dethatch your soil. Over the course of the year it will continue to decompose and add rich organic matter into your soil that will increase the success of your lawn. Hampton Roads soil is either sandy or clay based and therefore needs amending to encourage a healthy soil for lawns to grow in. There are multiple products that can help encourage a rich soil and increase soil microbes, without having to till or do major soil preparations. You always hear about feeding your lawn, but it is equally as important to feed your soil.