The first step to establishing a good lawn in Virginia is selecting the right type of grass seed. Virginia's climate is mild along the coastal region in the east, but cools increasingly across the Piedmont Plateau and up into the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains in the west. Warm-season varieties, including Bermuda grass and zoysia grass, will do well near the coast and can be planted from May to July. Cool-season cultivars like Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and perennial rye grass are better suited for the Piedmont and areas to the west. They should be seeded in late summer or early fall.
Test the pH level of your soil to determine what amendments should be made before seeding. The average soil pH in Virginia ranges between 5.0 and 5.5. The target pH level for most turf grasses is 6.2. If your pH level is below this threshold, lime should be added to raise it above 6.0.
Remove by hand all weeds and other plants from the area to be seeded. Use a water-filled hand roller to even and firm the surface. Rake the area in one direction to create evenly spaced shallow furrows for the seed.
Distribute the seed evenly with a broadcast spreader, following the label directions regarding the quantity to apply. Spread half of the seed by making passes east to west with the spreader. Change the spreading direction to north-south for the remaining half of the seed.
Water the lawn lightly after planting and maintain constant soil moisture for the first month. This often requires morning and evening watering. Water with a fine mist to avoid disturbing the seeds or washing away the covering soil.
Mow the lawn only after it has reached at least three inches tall. If in doubt as to whether the grass is tall enough, wait a little longer as this will allow it more time to get established. Keep foot traffic on the lawn to a minimum while it is maturing, which generally takes two full seasons.
Things You Will Need
- Lawn roller
- Garden rake
- Broadcast spreader
- Lawn mower
- A soil test can be arranged through your local Virginia State University County Extension office. Your county extension office will be able to advise you regarding the quantity and method of lime and fertilizer applications based on your test results.
- Contact your University of Virginia Extension office for advice on routine fertilization requirements for your variety of grass.
- Only mow newly planted lawns when the ground is dry. Mowing the grass when wet can churn the soil and damage the young root systems.