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Lawn/Pruning Tips for Virginia

Lawn Tips

By Dawn Marcotte

 

Growing and maintaining a green turf lawn can be challenging in Virginia. The geography of the state can be hostile to both warm weather grass and cool weather grass. Establishing and maintaining a lawn will require some work in the spring, summer and fall to keep the grass healthy and weed free.

 

Establishing a Lawn

The first step to growing healthy grass is to have the soil tested to determine the acid level. Most soil in Virginia is acidic and will require the addition of lime or phosphorus to bring the PH balance to a reading of 6.2, the ideal PH for lawns. Remove all weeds and install any underground irrigation system desired before laying sod or planting seeds.

Determine the best type of grass to plant according to local climate conditions. Cool weather grass can be planted in the late summer or early spring and sod can be laid anytime the soil is not frozen. Warm weather grass seed should not be used in the northern Piedmont or west of the Blue Ridge area. Sod can be laid in the late spring or early summer. Till the area to a depth of at least four inches to provide loose soil for the roots of the grass to establish themselves more easily.

When lime or other organic materials will be added or the ground is compacted till to a depth of six inches. Ideally six to eight inches of topsoil is spread over the subsoil. When adding fertilizer to the soil mix 2/3 of the recommended amount into the soil as it is tilled. Apply the remaining fertilizer to the top of the soil. The soil is now ready to be seeded or have sod applied.

Water thoroughly and regularly after seed or sod has been laid until the grass has established a strong root system. Do not mow the new grass until it has reached a height at least 1/3 higher than what is desired for the final height. It often takes two full growing seasons for the seed or sod to fully mature and begin to exhibit the characteristics of the chosen grass.

 

Spring and Summer Lawn Care

Once the lawn has been established it is important to maintain regular care. The timing of fertilizer application will differ according to the type of grass planted.

Cool weather grass will show early leaf growth and many homeowners rush to add fertilizer in the spring to encourage this growth.

This may not be appropriate reaction as too much fertilizer or the wrong kind of fertilizer will encourage the leaves to grow at the expense of the root system. It is important to maintain a strong root system so the turf can

withstand the warmer temperatures during the summer months. Apply a slow release fertilizer that contains at least 50% of water-insoluble nitrogen in the spring.

If a greener lawn is desired apply iron in the spring for a rapid greening effect that will not impact the root system. Spring is also the time to aerate a cool grass lawn. This process increases oxygen levels in the soil and relieves compaction.

Be sure to aerate before applying any weed control. Warm weather grasses also must balance between growing green leaves and building root systems.

Apply fertilizer only after the lawn has greened up completely, usually in early summer. Wait to aerate the lawn until the turf is actively growing, usually in mid-summer. Keep all types of grass healthy through the summer with regular watering. Grass that does not receive enough water will go dormant and return when water is available. If there is a drought apply some water regularly to keep cool -weather grasses from dying.

Water the lawn infrequently and deeply to help grass establish a strong root system. Mowing the grass correctly is an important aspect of summer lawn care. Verify lawn blades are sharp to provide the cleanest cut.

Maintain a height of two or three inches during the spring but to raise this height during summer months. The higher grass will shade the ground to help keep the ground cool and reduce water loss.

 

Fall Lawn Care

Lawn care continues through the fall to maintain healthy roots. Apply fertilizer in the early fall to help the grass establish a stronger root system. This application encourages cool grass to store extra energy through the winter.

Warm weather grass will benefit the most when potassium is in the fertilizer as this mineral is important for wintering.

Continue to mow regularly, but consider bagging the grass to avoid the build-up of thatch on the lawn. Maintaining a green lawn in Virginia can be challenging, but with the proper application

of fertilizer and water the lawn will remain strong and weed resistant for many years.

 


 

 

A Guide to Successful Pruning, Decidous Tree Pruning Calendar

 

430-460

 

Bonnie Lee Appleton, Extension Nursery Specialist, Virginia Tech; Susan C. French, Research Specialist, Virginia Tech

 

Legend:

* = Best time to prune

 

x = Do not prune except to correct damage, hazards, or structural defects

 

- = Timing is not critical

 

Note

 

1. Avoid pruning in late winter/early spring due to sap flow (more cosmetic than detrimental)

2. Avoid pruning from spring through summer due to insect or disease problems.

3. Avoid pruning from October - December due to reduced cold hardiness.

4. Avoid pruning after July because flower buds have set.

 

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Note

Ailanthus

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Alder

*

*

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

*

 

Ash

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Bald Cypress

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Beech

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

*

*

-

-

-

 

Birch

*

x

x

x

x

x

x

-

-

-

*

*

1,2

Buckeye

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Catalpa

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Cherry, Flowering

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Chestnut, Chinese

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Crabapple

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Crape Myrtle

*

*

*

x

x

x

-

-

-

x

x

x

3

Dogwood

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Elm

x

x

x

x

x

x

-

-

-

*

*

*

1,2

Fringe Tree

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Ginko

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Goldenraintree

-

-

-

x

x

x

x

x

-

*

*

*

 

Hackberry

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

x

x

-

-

-

2

Hawthorn

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Hickory

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Honeylocust

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

*

*

-

-

 

Horsechestnut

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Katsura

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Linden

-

-

-

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

-

-

 

Magnolia

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Maple

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

-

*

*

1,2

Mimosa

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Mountain Ash

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Mulberry

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Nyssa, Black Gum

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Oak

-

-

x

x

x

x

x

x

-

-

*

*

2

Peach, Flowering

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Pear, Flowering

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Plum, Flowering
and Purple

x

x

x

x

x

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Poplar

-

x

x

x

-

-

-

-

-

*

*

*

1

Redbud

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

2,4

Serviceberry

x

x

x

x

*

*

*

x

x

x

x

x

4

Sophora

-

-

-

x

x

x

x

-

-

*

*

*

 

Sourwood

-

-

x

x

x

x

x

-

-

*

*

*

 

Stewartia

*

-

-

-

-

x

x

x

-

-

-

*

 

Sweetgum

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Sycamore, Plane

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Tuliptree

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

Willow

-

x

x

x

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Zelkova

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

 


 

Exception: Timing varies across USDA climate zones - zones within Virginia range from 8a in the Virginia Beach area to 5b along the West Virginia border.

 

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.


 

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