Plan Ahead Before Establishing a New Lawn in Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is growing rapidly—more tourists, more businesses, more people relocating for work or retirement. Why not? You can enjoy a pleasant climate year-round and still have four seasons. Relax on the beach or tackle water sports in the summer. Take a nature tour on bike or horseback in the fall. In the winter, whales and dolphins perform their unique ballet as they pass by Virginia Beach on their annual migration route. In the spring, the sight and scent of cherry blossoms herald the approach of summer.
Whether you are one of those newcomers to Virginia Beach in a newly built home or a long-term resident with a lawn beyond hope who wants to start from scratch, establishing a new lawn that will flourish depends on planning and preparation.
Your lawn adds more to your life than you might know. In addition to the obvious aesthetic qualities, your lawn increases the value of your property, controls soil erosion, filters pollution from runoff water, tempers summer ground temperature, and adds oxygen to the air. You want your new lawn to have the best foundation possible, so that it’s happy and healthy enough to work that hard!
1. Remove Rubble
Particularly for newly constructed homes, clear out large rocks and wood, as well as any construction debris, that will be fatal to a new lawn.
2. Test the Soil
Determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. You wouldn’t build a house on a weak foundation; don’t build your lawn on one.
There are test kits available, or simply pull 10 plugs of dirt 3 to 6 inches deep from various areas of your lawn. Take them to a soil-testing laboratory to learn what liming and fertilizing your soil needs. Jennings Laboratories is in Virginia Beach, and the laboratory at the Norfolk Botanical Garden is only a half hour’s drive away. Or you might have a lawn service provider take care of both pulling and testing.
3. Till the Soil
Till the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. The soil is then best receptive to any recommended liming and fertilizing. It is also the time to apply herbicide to rid your soil of any weeds and fend off pre-emergent weeds. Have sandy soil? Check out our blog post about how to fix sandy soil in Virginia Beach, VA.
Photo: Flickr / Mike Mozart
4. Decide to Seed or Sod
Seed is less expensive, but you will spend more time nurturing the fledgling lawn. Seed takes at least two months to be fully established. You may have to reseed spots if heavy rains wash seed away—more of a possibility on sloping ground. There is, however, a distinct advantage to seeding. You can “custom design” your lawn by using different types of seed in different areas. Unless your lawn is homogeneous, you might have an area that will be in full sun and another in shade. You might have an area that will need to tolerate high traffic and one that will rarely have any traffic at all.
Sod is more expensive, but you have an instant lawn. You get immediate satisfaction, and you don’t need to worry about soil erosion as you do with seed. If you buy a high quality sod (and you should), you will also not be cursed with weed problems.
You also have the option of splitting the difference. For example, sod the front yard, seed the back.
Photo: Flickr / Helen Taylor
5. Decide the Type of Grass
Now another decision: What type of grass? Virginia Beach is in the Transition Zone, a area that spans the continent from Virginia and North Carolina to the northern sections of Arizona and parts of lower California. Both cool and warm-season grasses can be grown (or can perish) in this zone where temperatures range from very hot to very cold. Virginia Beach averages 90° in the summer and 28° in winter.
The range in temperatures creates a quandary. Which to choose? A cool-season grass takes more time and energy to maintain. A warm-season grass goes dormant and becomes brown in mid-to-late fall and winter.
Tall or Fine Fescue grass, Perennial Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass are cool-season grasses that are used successfully throughout the transition zone. Warm-season grasses that do well in the cooler areas of the zone are Zoysia, Bermuda and Buffalo. There are valid arguments for either, but warm-season grasses have overtaken the cool-season in popularity.
Ask a lawn service provider for information and recommendations. You can also drive around and when you see a lawn you’d like to have, ask the homeowner what type of grass it is. Or survey the owners of several lawns. If you’re new to Virginia Beach, you’ll meet people to invite over to enjoy your lush lawn once it’s established.
With all the planning and preparations checked off, you can now proceed with sodding or seeding, irrigating, and mowing your new lawn.
Have additional lawn care questions? Visit our Virginia Beach, VA lawn care page or share your thoughts in the comments section below.