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Seed Guide PDF Print E-mail

SEED GUIDE

FOR CENTRAL VIRGINIA

 

 

            There are many types of seed available to a homeowner.  However, only a few are suited to our climate.  All of the ones discussed below have uses suitable for the Central Virginia market.  Not all of them are suitable for a nice well groomed lawn.

 

KENTUCKY 31

 

            Kentucky 31 has been used for many years for lawns in our area.  At one time it was the best lawn grass available to us.  Today with the development of new breeding programs KY-31 is rarely used except where cost is a factor.  KY-31 is characterized by a broad, coarse leaf and a pale green color.  No matter how much fertilizer you apply it will not have the dark green color that most homeowners desire.  KY-31 would normally be sown in sunny areas. 

            The seeding rate for a new lawn would be 5 to 6 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn area.  Over seeding rates usually start at about 3 pounds per 1000 sq. ft.

 

TURF TYPE TALL FESCUES

           

            Turf type tall fescues are a broad category of tall fescues that begin to be marketed some 20 to 25 years ago.  TODAY THEY ARE CERTAINLY THE LAWN GRASS OF CHOICE FOR CENTRAL VIRGINIA.  There are many varieties of tall fescues available. I will not try to discuss one name brand over another or try to say one is better than the other.  New introductions of turf type grasses appear on the market each year.  Usually the two biggest improvements are more drought and disease tolerance.  The improvements from one year to the next are slight.

            The main features of the turf type fescues are a more narrow leaf or blade, a darker green color, disease resistance and more drought tolerance than KY-31. 

            Most of the turf type seeds are sold as a blend of three or more varieties rather than a single variety.  The thought being that if one doesn’t do well the other two will.  I am not certain that this is a valid argument. 

            Seeding rates for turf type fescues are the same as for KY-31.

 

CREEPING FESCUES

 

            Creeping fescues are usually referred to as creeping red fescue and most often sold as variety not stated on the bag.  They are available as branded seed but with the small quantities used in this area most stores stock unbranded seed. 

            Creeping fescue is a very fine bladed grass not much thicker than a hair.  It rarely gets more than 3 to 4 inches tall and will only need mowing a few times per season.  It is not a pretty grass and does not tolerate sun very well. If you have heavy shade it is the grass of choice.

            Seeding rates would be 3 to 4 pounds per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

 

  BLUEGRASS

 

            Bluegrass produces a beautiful lawn in northern lawns where summers are cooler than in Central Virginia.  I would not recommend it for lawns in this area.  Our summers are normally too hot and dry to maintain bluegrass.  It will do well in shady areas for short periods of time.  When we have a few 90 degree days disease usually takes its toll and most of the bluegrass dies.

 

PERENNIAL RYEGRASS

 

            This may be the prettiest of all lawn grass grown under cool, humid conditions.  Again, I would not recommend it for a lawn in this area.  Ryegrass will not take as much heat as bluegrass.  It usually dies out in early spring as soon as temperatures begin to bounce into the 80 plus range.  It does have the advantage of germinating in cool temperatures.  Many people overseed their lawns in late fall with perennial ryegrass to maintain a nice green lawn over the winter.  It usually dies out in the spring and disappears.

 

ANNUAL RYEGRASS

   

            The only use for annual ryegrass in lawns is mixed with other desirable varieties.  In this capacity it serves as a cover crop to protect the desirable varieties while they are getting established.  The annual rye germinates quickly even during cold weather and thus offers protection for the other seed.  Annual rye dies out early in the spring.

 

BERMUDA GRASS

 

            This is not a grass that is recommended for lawns in this area.  Bermuda is a warm season grass that is used for lawns in warmer areas further south.  It is used locally on some athletic fields.  It is somewhat more durable in high traffic areas than turf type fescues.  Bermuda spreads by rhizomes and stollens so it is constantly reestablishing the grass stand.  In Central Virginia it turns brown and goes dormant for the winter at first frost and greens up in the spring after the last frost.  Most of us have common Bermuda in our lawns.  We just know it as wiregrass.  Rather than establishing lawns with Bermuda we spend our time trying to get rid of it.

 

ZOYSIA GRASS

 

            This is a grass that has limited use in this area.  I can’t imagine why but some people like zoysia.  It is usually established by plugs, sold by mail order and tends to be very expensive.  It is very slow to spread but once established almost impossible to get rid of and continues to spread slowly but surely.  If your neighbor has zoysia sooner or later you will have zoysia.  Zoysia also turns brown at first frost and does not green up until late spring.

 

 

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