The key to a healthy and vibrant lawn is to start with a grass that grows well in the area in which you live. The best grasses for lawns in Virginia are cool season grasses which thrive in the area's freezing winters and moderate summers, which may stunt the growth of other grasses. Cool season grasses consist of cultivars of bluegrasses, fescues and perennial ryegrasses, and any of these will grow well in Virginia. If your lawn is doing poorly despite your best efforts, it may be time to head to your local garden center for a variety of grass that is more suited for Virginian temperatures.
Mow the lawn regularly. For most of the year, Virginia lawns should be kept between 2 and 2.5 inches in height. However, in the hot summer months, the grass should be allowed to reach 3 inches to help it withstand the high temperatures. And in October, begin keeping the grass between 1.5 and 2 inches high to help it survive the cold winter.
Water the lawn regularly. In general, Virginia lawns require 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week (including rainfall) for most of the year. However, in summer that amount should rise to between 2 and 2.5 inches and more during hot, dry spells. To prepare it for winter, your lawn should receive 2.5 inches of water at the tail end of fall and no more during the freezing winter months.
Control any weeds that crop up by hand weeding. Persistent weed problems can be treated with a pre-emergent herbicide applied in April and again in June. However, a weed problem is often a sign of an unhealthy lawn and you may consider having a professional out to diagnose the problem.
Fertilize your lawn with a slow release 20-0-0 fertilizer (other high-nitrogen fertilizers are acceptable, but application rates may vary) at a rate of 5 lbs. per 1,000 square feet of lawn in September and again in May.
Use a core aerater to aerate the lawn in September. If it has been growing thin or otherwise doing poorly, you can overseed the lawn at this time to thicken it.