re-doing lawn in Fredericskburg, VA

gastone21June 13, 2014

Home was purchased about 6 years ago. Located on a small (1/8 acre) city lot. It was purchased as a short sell, and the previous owner(s) did not spend much time on the lawn. I've established some raised beds for veggies, and some others for tropicals (pita come wintertime), but now that we have a baby in the house we'd like to establish a lawn. I've hit the lawn a few times with some 42% glyophosphate to knock down whatever currently exists as my lawn. This is mostly wire grass (bermuda grass??), followed by an abundance of violets, dandelions, clover, and every other weed known to this part of the county. I just got the soil results back from VA Tech, via my local extension office, and have started to amend the lawn per their recommendations. We understand that we will have a dead lawn until this fall, and that is fine with us. Recommendations are for nitrogen (I applied Milorganite), and 160# of lime/1000sq ft. I've done the first dosing of lime, and will a total of 4 applications.


I plan on renting a vertical rake. At what point is it optimal to do this?

I don't know what type of lawn I should try to establish. There are two distinct regions. The easterly side of the house gets good morning sun until about noon, maybe oneish. The northerly side gets a wee bit of morning sun, followed by a few hours of not terribly much, then gets full sun after about twoish or so.

Any recommendations on cool season/warm season grasses? I'm not overly concerned with watering as the area to be addressed is quite small, and won't adversely affect my water bill... no more so than the tropicals do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


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ForsheeMS(Lexington, NC)

I'm no pro but here goes. Sounds like you're definitely on the right track. About a month prior to reseeding I would begin watering very lightly 3 times per day. All you want to do is keep the soil moist to germinate any weed seeds that are just lying around. Once you see stuff popping up hit it with the Glyphosate. This should eliminate just about any weed seeds that happened to make it into your yard. The dandelions and clover aren't too big of a deal and fairly easy to get rid of but the violets can be a be a real nightmare so make absolutely sure you have those gone.

I would also make sure any high/low spots are leveled so the soil is completely smooth before seeding. Be very careful with this so you don't change the drainage of the yard.

From what you describe of the sun/shade tall fescue would be you're best option. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:57AM
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Is the purpose of the vertical rake to get up the dead weeds? If so, I'd wait until time to plant the grass in September. The dead weeds will keep prevent erosion this summer. I also recommend tall fescue. I used Southern States blend last fall for my renovations and I'm happy with it so far (SS Pro Landscape Mixture 1, which is AST7003, AST1001, and AST9001 Tall Fescue). VA Tech has some recommendations on fescues good for Virginia and you might check them out. I didn't find them in the local Richmond stores. You can order seed online. I've used Seed Superstore in the past but the website comes up with a security warning now, so I don't know what's up with that. You could call them.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Becky, yes the idea was to get up the dead stuff. I suppose with such a little yard, there's no reason to rent a power rake. I'll just do it by hand. The yard itself is extremely flat, surrounded by a fairly short So tall fescue is the way to go. I'll go back to the va tech website and look for their recommendations.

What if we decided to lay sod instead? Other than cost, any disadvantages to laying seed? Anything I'm missing.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:03AM
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Sod is wonderful. The main disadvantage to seeding is that the seed must be kept moist while it's germinating, which means briefly watering several times a day for a couple of weeks or more. With sod, you don't have to worry about the race between new grass and weeds, as the grass is already established. Sod is more expensive than seed but if you have a small yard, it would be the less stressful way to go. You'd have an instant lawn. You would need to stay off a newly seeded lawn for weeks. Your choices of cultivars will be more limited in sod. When selecting the cultivar, make sure it's brown patch resistant. Tall fescue is generally suspectible to brown patch in hot, humid weather and Virginia has plenty of that. After grass is established, always water in the morning, not the afternoon or evening, so grass can dry off before night. When you water, do an inch at a time (measure using a tuna fish can in the yard) and let the ground dry out between waterings. Deep infrequent watering is the way to go after grass is established. You could get some Kentucky bluegrass in with the mixture of fescue; the advantage is that bluegrass spreads and fills in whereas with all fescue you generally need to overseed each fall to fill in problem spots. It's good to get a mix of cultivars so that if disease gets one kind, the others may not be affected. Fine fescues are recommended for shady lawns. I think you should have enough sun for tall fescue and KBG. Here are the VA Tech recommendations:

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 1:09PM
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