Henrico County VA

In the garden

It’s not too late to improve your lawn
Master Gardeners staffing the Horticulture Helpline at the Henrico Extension Office (501-5160) say they’re getting a lot of questions about fall lawn care. The most common question: “Is it too late to do anything about my lawn now?”

“No,” said Teddy Martin, Horticulture Technician with the Extension Service and coordinator of the SMARTLawns program. “Fall is the time of year to work on lawns.”

“The starting point really is in September,” said Martin. “But you can get a late start and still have a nice lawn.”

The optimum time for aerating your lawn and sowing grass seed is from mid-September to mid-October, but Martin says you can still put down seed until late October. “After November 1, you’re pushing it,” he said.

It all depends on the weather, according to Martin. “If we have a warm fall, you’ll be all right, but if the fall is too cool, the seed may not germinate or grow well,” he said.

October is a good month to fertilize your lawn. If you do the first application now, you can do a second application between November 15 and December 15. “Normally we recommend the SON approach,” said Martin which calls for fertilizer applications in September, October and November. “But, again,” said Martin. “You can start late.”

Before putting any fertilizer or lime on your lawn, Martin recommends doing a soil test. Soil should be tested at least once every three years to determine existing nutrient levels and pH and what supplements are needed.

Soil test kits are available at the Extension Service and in all of the county’s public libraries, and Henrico residents are eligible for two free soil samples each year by using vouchers from the Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District. Instructions for getting the vouchers and collecting the soil sample are attached to the kit.

And, it’s time now to do something about those weeds. October and November are good times to put down broadleaf weed killers for winter weeds such as chickweed and henbit. Crabgrass preventers should be used in March, and broadleaf weed killers for summer weeds such as dandelions, lespedeza and spurge should be applied in April or May.

“Many people don’t realize it,” said Martin. “But weeds grow in the winter!”

Would you like to become a Henrico Master Gardener? The deadline for applications to the 2012 class is Friday, Oct. 28. Master Gardener trainees attend 50 hours of classroom instruction from January through March. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Extension Office. Trainees are also required to complete a 50-hour volunteer internship between April and November. Cost is $135. To find out more, call the Extension Office at 501-5160
or visit http://www.co.henrico.va.us/extension
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