TALKING GARDENING with DOUG – Lawn Care Chores To Be Done Now


Are you thinking about your lawn renovation and what needs to be done? Lawn renovation season starts in August with a couple important tasks to complete.


Do yourself, and your wallet, a service and get a soil test done on the lawn. Soil tests taken every three or four years provide important information about the fertility of your lawn soil. The results will indicate the amounts of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium your soil can provide to the turfgrass. It will also indicate the acidity (pH) of your soil and whether lime is needed. A soil test may indicate you do not need to apply some nutrients. A soil test is vital information and could save you a lot of money being spent on unneeded products.

You can pick up a free soil test kit at any of the Chesterfield County libraries. Or, come to see me because I have quite a few test kits on hand that I will be happy to give out. Remember, it may take two or three weeks to get the test results back from Virginia Tech. This is why now is the right time to do soil testing.


Now is a good time to schedule an aeration for your lawn. You may be asking yourself “what is lawn aeration?” Lawn aeration involves the removal of small soil plugs or cores out of the lawn. Most aeration is done mechanically with a machine having hollow tines or spoons mounted on a disk or drum. Known as a core aerator, it extracts ½ or ¾ inch diameter cores of soil and deposits them on your lawn. Aeration loosens the soil from being compacted. Roots require oxygen to grow and absorb nutrients and water. Compacted soil reduces pore space and the amount of air within the soil. Your lawn will thank you for aerating this month.


  1. August is the time to use a herbicide to kill any unwanted weeds in the lawn.  Depending on the herbicide you will need to wait 30 days or more before it is safe to apply grass seed.
  2. One weed that is a very common problem in the lawn is CHICKWEED. Chickweed is an annual weed with small rounded leaves and a small white flower in the early spring. If you have chickweed this past spring, the seed is laying in the soil waiting to germinate again next spring. TIP: THE BEST CONTROL FOR CHICKWEED IS TO APPLY A PREEMERGENT HERBICIDE IN THE LATE FALL. This preemergent will keep the chickweed seed (and other noxious weeds like crabgrass) from ever germinating and growing. So, seed your lawn and fertilize this fall. Let your grass seed grow and mature. Then in late fall apply the preemergent.
  3. In our area, the cool season tall fescue is the most commonly used lawn grass seed.
  4. The most important step for any homeowner is selecting the proper grass seed for the situation. You need to determine if your lawn is in the sun, part sun, or shade. Choose a grass seed that is of high quality with at least an 85% germination rate and with no noxious weed content.
  5. Lawn fertilizers don’t work when the acidity (pH) is really out of whack. Grasses like pH at 6.2 – 6.5.
  6. Follow the S. O. D. (September, October, & December) program for the best results with seeding and renovating your lawn this fall. September is the month to seed or overseed your lawn and apply a lawn starter fertilizer. October is the month for the second application of fertilizer and to fill in any weak or thin spots with more grass seed. Your last feeding will be in December.
  7. Leaving your grass clippings on your lawn each time you mow can provide the nutrients equal to one fertilizer application.
  8. When overseeding an established lawn, 2 lbs. of tall fescue grass seed per 1,000 sq ft. is adequate to thicken up the lawn.
  9. Grass needs ONE INCH OF WATER PER WEEK. No more, no less. Be sure to water in the morning. If you water at night the lawn will stay wet, which promotes disease.
  10. MYTH – grass clippings create thatch. Wrong. Matter of fact, grass clippings are 90% water and break down quickly.
  11. Mow right. Fescue lawns are happiest when mowed to 2.5 – 4” high  –  cut any shorter and root development decreases – along with the health of your lawn!

Come to see us and let us be your lawn care headquarters for everything you need this fall. We are stocking up now to get ready for fall.

Don’t forget – come to see me for the soil test kit.


14 thoughts on “TALKING GARDENING with DOUG – Lawn Care Chores To Be Done Now”

  1. We have four dogs and have pretty much decided that there’s nothing we can do to save our lawn. Any suggestions?

  2. I live in Alexandria VA , where can I get a lawn test kit/processed? Is zoysia seed a resonant choice – some area is hilly and quite shady. Thanks.

  3. My lawn is all weeds, even though I have reseeded several times. I used poison 1 time to kill weeds & it was over a year before I saw another Robin in my yard. Also, how about worms-r they killed with weed killers?

  4. Bob, You want to add live to RAISE the pH of your soil – not lower. Do you know the pH level? You may not need to lime depending on the pH level. Now, before you over seed , is a good time to add lime Doug

  5. If I am overseeding my lawn, how does that affect my mowing schedule? Will cutting affect the seeds that haw been laid down?
    Last question – the late Fall pre-emerge – is it granular or sprayed?

  6. I have the same question as some of these other people. I live near DC (Ft. Washington, MD). Where can I pick up a soil test kit?

  7. Looking for where I can get the kit to test my soil and where to send it. I live in Berryville, VA.

  8. We have many trees near our lawn….if I reseed and fertilize the lawn how long can I leave fallen leaves on the lawn before blowing them away?

    • Mary Ann,
      First, thank you for sending me this great question. Try to do your reseeding and fertilizing soon. This will give your grass seed ample time to germinate and grow before the tree leaves really start to fall heavily. Once the grass seed has germinated you are safe to blow the leaves. You don’t want the leaves to pile up on the new grass or the leaves will create to much shade on the grass blades and start causing some dying. Let me know if you have any further questions. Remember – FALL IS FOR PLANTING – and the season has begun. Take care, Doug

    • Jim, First, thank you for reading this blog and taking time to send your comment. I would suggest contacting your local county agricultural extension service. If they don’t provide soil test kits then let me know if you want me to send you one in the mail. I’ll be happy to. Keep in mind this soil test kit is for Virginia Tech but it shouldn’t be any issue that you live in Maryland. Happy Fall Planting to you, Doug

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