Lawn Care Services in Northern Virginia
Green industry best practices have evolved over the past fifteen years in Northern Virginia. And, although basic lawn care techniques are much the same, the materials and equipment we use in landscape maintenance have changed. They are more effective and more environmentally friendly now.
If you own a large property, the horticultural expertise and resources that a high-end landscape maintenance company will bring to your lawn care program will be a worthwhile investment in the health of your lawn.
More Effective and Environmentally Friendly
Tom Kniezewski, Surrounds Garden Management Team Leader, says lawn maintenance has become more “scientific” particularly in the way his crews use fertilizers and nutrients. Under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, the state imposes regulations on when specific treatments can be applied and in what quantities. Virginia closely monitors the use of fertilizers and other materials because we are situated in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The state requires a soil test to prove that adding phosphorus and nitrogen is necessary.
Also, fungicide and insecticide products are continually improving. Today they are more effective and more environmentally friendly. We use them sparingly, but when we have to, we can feel more comfortable about it. For example, the grub control treatment that Surrounds uses for its lawn care services has no cautionary labeling such as “dangerous” or “harmful” to bees, birds or mammals as other products that are available.
Our use of interventions is much more targeted now. Those of us in the green industry are absolutely concerned about preserving the health of the natural systems we work in. –Tom Kniezewski, Surrounds Garden Management Team Leader
Most of the time, Kniezewski says, his crews can avoid using pesticides because of their proactive approach to landscape maintenance and lawn care. The crews perform a variety of tasks in weekly rotation: inspecting planting beds and turf, managing weeds, and adjusting irrigation as needed. That’s the Surrounds approach. The lawn care services are one element in our holistic landscape maintenance system.
Crew members will snap a photo if a plant or section lawn looks off and send it to a garden manager so that we can respond without delay. –Tom Kniezewski
Four Fundamentals of a Lawn Care Program
The foundational practices for maintaining a healthy lawn are mowing, watering, weeding, and nutrient management. Let’s detail those lawn care practices one at a time:
It is important to maintain grass at the correct length for weather conditions and season. The lawn grasses we use in the mid-Atlantic region thrive in cool temperatures. So, in spring and fall, we’ll set the blade at around 3.5 inches to keep the lawn at a manageable height. In summer, when growth slows down, we give it an extra inch or so because that helps grass blades retain moisture against evaporation.
The worst thing for a lawn is too much water. Too much water will cause grass to develop a shallow root system making it more vulnerable in hot, dry conditions. It is important to adjust moisture frequency and quantity to match changing weather conditions.
Weeding. If necessary, we spot treat with chemicals during the growing season to prevent weed seeds from sprouting. In the fall, when we are overseeding in the fall, we switch to pulling weeds by hand because chemical applications stop any seed from germinating including our grass seed.
Turfgrass gobbles up nutrients, so they have to be replaced periodically—about four times per year. Perhaps the only positive characteristic of the clay soils here in Virginia is that they tend to bind with nutrients and hold them in place longer. Whereas in a better-drained soil, nutrients would leach through and we’d have to make more frequent applications.
Reality Check: The Perfectly Green Lawn
Even with irrigation, is it realistic to expect a uniformly green lawn throughout spring, summer, and fall in Northern Virginia? Not really. A lawn is a monoculture, the same plant with the same growth requirements spread across a large area that consists of various micro-environments. That is, depending on the location–next to a driveway or walkway, in shade or sun, wet or dry area—you are trying to get one type of plant to adapt to and grow in different conditions. It can be done, but not without irrigation and expert lawn care services.
The turfgrass we use in Northern Virginia is cool season fescue. It thrives when the daytime temperature is 65 degrees and low 50’s at night. That’s why it grows rapidly in spring and fall. In summer it gets stressed from the high heat. Without irrigation, it will turn brown and go dormant. That’s normal. It will start absorbing nutrients and green up again when the temperature cools down.
Kniezewski says he’d prefer to let lawns go dormant rather than irrigate during the hot season because lawns that don’t depend on irrigation develop deeper root systems and will stay green longer anyway. Also, during weeks of high overnight temperatures combined with humidity, lawn grass becomes vulnerable to fungus—especially if it is being irrigated. And that will turn it brown in patches. But, Kneizewski says, most of his clients don’t want to see any brown grass in the summer. So his lawn care crews keep an eye out for any signs of trouble and spot treat them before they spread.
Consistency is Key to Expert Lawn Maintenance
A high-end lawn care services company is going to perform weekly inspections and annual soil analysis to ensure your lawn has the correct Ph balance and nutrient levels to achieve its full potential. Throughout the season, too, the lawn maintenance crews work through a rotation of tasks such as fertilizing, weeding, seeding, aeration at specific times.
Overall, the value of high-end lawn care services is the proactive and preventative approach employed that heads off problems before they spread and keeps your lawn looking its very best always.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Surrounds’ holistic approach to lawn care, contact one of our garden management specialists to schedule an inspection visit to your property.