There are basically only two types of grass, Cool Season and Warm season—both thrive in our area.
Since Virginia has cold winters and warm to hot summers Cool Season grasses are a great choice for the Hampton Roads area. This grass type will tolerate some drought, (it will go dormant during drought). Typical cool season grasses include: Bentgrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Rough Bluegrass, Red Fescue, Annual Ryegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. However since we are in the “Transition Zone” (between northern and southern turfgrass regions) Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue do the best in our area versus the other Cool Season grass types. You will see the most growth of Cool Season grasses in the spring and fall months. It tends to brown (some green remains) in the winter and see little growth in the summer.
Warm Season grasses are also known to do well in our area. Good soil is critical for growing these types of grasses which is known for it’s low-maintenance. Most all Warm Season grasses will turn brown when cooler temperatures arrive. You can overseed in the winter with ryegrass each fall to maintain green color in the winter months. Some types of Warm Season grasses include: Bahia, Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Carpet grass, Centipede, St, Augustine grass, Zoysia grass.
There are a few things you can do during even the harshest winter that can ensure a beautiful, lush yard once spring rolls around again.
Late fall or early winter are the best times to fertilize cool season grasses. Since the majority of the lawns in North America are made from these grasses, like Bermuda and bluegrass, it is a good bet your yard has a typical cool season blend.Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilizing to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during thehot summer months. Once the weather turns cold, the fertilizer will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.When spring comes your lawn will be full of healthy, lush, green grass that has been feeding on good fertilizer nutrients underneath the snow.
During the last month of the summer you should gradually lower the cutting base of your lawn mower each time you mow the lawn. Slowly cutting your grass shorter will allow it to winter well without shocking it by cutting it all off at once. If you leave your lawn too tall during the winter months it will be prey to field mice and other burrowing animals that want a warm place to sleep. Mice can destroy large parts of your lawn by building nests. They create dead spots where they spend all of their time as well as pulling up large amounts of grass to build their structures. Make sure your grass is as short as possible at the end of the season. Short grass also protects any new growth that may be more fragile near the end of the growing season.
It is easy for items to be left on the lawn during the long, cold winter when no one goes outside very often. Stray logs, toys, and even lawn furniture can be accidentally overlooked before the first snow comes. Make sure that you clear the lawn of all objects after you mow it for the last time of the year. Do an occasional sweep of the lawn every couple of weeks during the winter, as well. If an object is left on the grass during cold weather and snowfall it can create large dead spots because of the weight of the object. In thespring the grass in that area will be stunted and thinner than therest of the yard.
When the grass is brown and short it can be easy for people to forget that it shouldn’t be walked on. Try to prevent very much foot traffic on your winter lawn. Grass is relatively resilient, but it will have a difficult time recovering if a path becomes well worn across the lawn.