Your lawn is a complex digestive system filled with billions of microorganisms. Like enzymes in your stomach, microorganisms process chemicals present in the soil – either to protect plants rooted in the soil or provide them with nutrients. The key to a healthy lawn begins with how (and if) you choose to nourish it.
Home Turf, a Virginia Healthy Lawns program is an excellent source of assistance for homeowners to determine just what their lawn needs to be as healthy as possible. Fairfax County Master Gardeners support the program, providing information about soil acidity, why the pH matters, when you should fertilize your grass and how to minimize your property’s impact on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It all starts with a soil test, a measurement of your lawn’s area, and a survey of the condition of the grass and the presence of weeds. For a small fee, a Master Gardener Home Turf Team member will perform these tasks and send a soil sample from your lawn to Virginia Tech’s soil lab for analysis to determine the best course of action.
Using the soil analysis results, the Master Gardener will prepare a nutrient management plan for your property. The plan contains recommendations for watering, application of lime, and optimizing the soil’s phosphorous, nitrogen and pH levels. Through a partnership, staff with the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District will review and certify the nutrient management plan before it is provided to the homeowner, which will acknowledge the nutrient reductions as part of the larger-scale Chesapeake Bay preservation efforts. A homeowner’s participation in the Home Turf program demonstrates how individuals and families across the watershed are making a difference in improving the quality of our treasured waterways.
Helping homeowners maintain healthy lawns and keeping nutrients from entering the watershed are two goals of the Home Turf program. Scheduling a visit from one of the Master Gardeners Home Turf team members is simple, and they are happy to help. More information and a downloadable application can be found on the Fairfax County Master Gardeners website: http://fairfaxgardening.org/home-turf/