The Best Grass Seed for Virginia
Being able to venture out to enjoy your home’s front and backyard is the perfect way to connect with greenery and nature without straying too far from your home. But for your yard to feel as comfortable as possible, it’s going to take some work — and knowhow. The good news is that you can take some easy (and affordable) steps to maintain your lawn’s health and color all year long.
What is the Growing Climate in Virginia?
One of the main reasons that Virginians have such a tricky time trying to beautify their lawn are the geographical conditions of the state. If you can’t quite maintain a free lawn, it’s not your fault because Virginia sits in what lawn care managers call a “transition zone.”
Even if you use a mixture of grass seeds, living in a transition zone state like Virginia makes it difficult to manage lawns. However, you can use the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to plant strategically, based on where you live. There are grass seed varieties you can plant that work best in each of these zones.
The northern Piedmont region, which includes land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, typically experiences extremely cold, dry winters. In contrast, the Southern Piedmont region, including land east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, warms up significantly.
Summertime temperatures are hot and dry, which would be perfect for warm season grasses. But the cold season is too harsh for these varieties. On the flip side, homeowners can’t rely solely on cool season grasses because the summer conditions in Virginia could turn them brown and patchy.
Soil Types in Virginia
It’s not just the weather conditions that are in flux in Virginia. It’s also the land formations. Virginia is a naturally diverse state with vast mountain ranges, valleys, forests, and sloped terrain on one side. In other parts of the state, there are complex river systems with fertile lowlands that can be good for growing both crops and turf.
Pamunkey soil is the official soil type in Virginia. It’s especially present in areas along the state’s vast river system, running along the James River. The topsoil of Pamunkey has a dark brown fine sandy loam surface to a depth of about nine inches, while the subsoil is made of a sandy clay loam. This composition, along with deposits of minerals and nutrients gathered over hundreds of years, make Pamunkey soil the most fertile in the country.
Pamunkey is not present throughout the state, however. Through the years of changing climate and shifting geography, as well as human activities, the makeup of soil has changed in Virginia.
Here are a few common features of Virginia soil you should know about for your lawn:
- Generally, soils in Virginia are enriched by the river system that runs from the western mountains through the rest of the state.
- The far eastern coastal plains have some of the densest and sandiest soil. This is not necessarily a negative feature but heavy, bulky soil can make it difficult for deep roots to form. Root systems help keep the soil intact and preserve its natural fertility, and without these systems, fertile soil could be stripped of nutrients or eroded by the elements.
- According to USDA data, about half of Virginia’s soil is acidic.
Considering the soil in Virginia is key when deciding which grass seeds you need to plant for a healthy lawn that will thrive, season after season.
Types of Grass Seed to Plant in Virginia
Living in a transition zone state like Virginia means that you have to plant more strategically than if your state’s climate and geography were more uniform. Like any other homeowner, you have a choice between cool season and warm season grasses. But you also need to know which of these types will thrive when planted on your lawn.
Tall Fescue — Cool Season Grass
Tall fescue is a cool season grass that’s perfect for Virginia’s changing seasons and soil types. It has some of the deepest root systems of all cool season grasses, so you’ll be able to establish a hearty lawn for years to come. This also allows it to avoid drought, come the summer, by reaching deep into the soil when rains are scarce.
Tall fescue grass seed germination takes about 10 to 14 days. It prefers full sun but it can also thrive in moderate shade. If you want to maintain a lawn with low to moderate involvement, tall fescue is perfect.
Fine Fescues — Cool Season Grass
Fine fescues are under-utilized in Virginia, but they’re actually fantastic if you live in the Valley, Ridge, and northern Piedmont regions. They have a needle-like leaf texture, and they grow to be a lush and uniform lawn that requires very little maintenance.
However, you trade in all these positives for the fact that “fine” fescues are delicate. They don’t hold up well to foot traffic, so they might not be right for your home if you have kids or pets that like to run around in the yard. To their credit, fine fescues do very well in shaded areas, drought conditions, and even poor soils. Be careful not to overwater or over-fertilize this grass seed type.
Zoysiagrass — Warm Season Grass
If you live between zones 7b and 8a, your best bet is to include Zoysiagrass in your grass seed blend. It’s a warm season grass, to be sure, but it holds up incredibly well in cold weather. In fact, it’s unlikely to be damaged by even severe winter conditions in these zones. Once it proliferates, it maintains exceptional density, which means it can easily crowd out weeds and dandelions in your lawn.
Zoysiagrass’s only downfall is that it takes between 21 to 30 days to establish itself. During this time, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing active weed control. However, once it germinates and grows, it requires very little maintenance and even surpasses cool season grasses in terms of its water use efficiency. It also has very few pest problems.
Centipedegrass — Warm Season Grass
If you live in the Tidewater region of Virginia, Centipedegrass is the right seed type for your property. It has a cheerful, yellow-green color and few pest problems. It also demonstrates pretty hardy shade tolerance and an ability to grow despite acidic soil conditions. Like Zoysiagrass, Centipedegrass does grow slowly.
At Nature’s Seed in Lehi, Utah, we’re committed to making sure you have the resources, planting aids, and the right grass seeds to help your property and land thrive.
Whether you’re working on building a more lush lawn, or you’re planning to restore your soil and vegetation, Nature’s Seed can help guide you with tips, strategies, and accurate methods for a successful project.
Contact us to learn more about grass seeds and planting aids at Nature’s Seed today.