Green Up Your Patch of Earth: Local and Online Resources for Lush Lawns and Beautiful Beds

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By Erin Pittman

If your yard is looking a bit lackluster and you have dreams of a lush green lawn, fall is the perfect time to take action. Here in Prince William, you’ve got plenty of resources to tap into to gather the best tips and tricks to foster the greenest lawn on the block. But don’t just stop at green grass, take it a step further and level up your landscaping in 2022. These local and online resources will have your neighbors doing a doubletake on their evening walks in no time.

Local Lawn Care Resources

BEST Lawn Program

Growing a lush, green lawn isn’t always as simple as it looks. You need the right seed, the correct balance of nutrients, water, sunlight — grass is actually kind of needy. Thankfully the Virginia Cooperative Extension has your back with their BEST Lawn Program. BEST stands for Building Environmentally Sustainable Turf, and the program protects neighborhood streams, lakes, ponds, and the Chesapeake Bay, while being
respectful of your time and budget.

For a one-time fee, participants receive a soil test and program materials. Visit pwcva.gov/department/virginia-cooperativeextension/best-lawn-program for full details and to download
an application. You can also access free materials including turf calendars and weed identification sheets.

As you work through your soil test results and program materials, you may find yourself with additional questions. Contact the VCE Environmental Educator at 703-792-4037 or at BESTlawns@pwcgov.org for tailored answers.

Master Gardener Helpline

Perhaps you’re not ready to enroll in a program, but you do find yourself with a specific question or two. Master Gardeners of Prince William are available to tackle your lawn and garden questions. Use their free helpline any time by calling 703-792-7747 for the help desk or emailing mastergardener@pwcgov.org.

Master Gardener Volunteers attend 75 hours of classroom instruction for training, and then serve in a 50-hour internship over a period of one year. These volunteers continue to volunteer a minimum of 20 hours a year and attend continuing education annually.

Local Landscaping Workshops and Classes

Late summer and fall bring a variety of opportunities for Prince William residents to learn more about landscaping.

Saturday in the Garden and Wednesday Night Zooms

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Saturday in the Garden schedule includes these upcoming classes:

Aug. 13 – Propagation/Cover Crops. Increase your enjoyment, knowledge, and success making new plants through seed starting, cuttings, layering, and division. Learn about how to use cover crops to improve your soil.

Sept. 10 – Tree and Shrub Planting/Plant Sale. Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Learn how to select and properly plant appropriate and beautiful native trees and shrubs that fit your suburban yard.

Oct. 8 – Shade Gardening. Join Master Gardener Harriet Carter as she discusses the shade gardening and previews beautiful native plants for shade.

VCE also offers a Wednesday night Zoom class series. On Aug. 17, tune in to Pollen Specialist Bees & Their Host Plants. Learn about their floral preferences and what you can do to support them at home. Visit pwcva.gov/department/virginia-cooperative-extension/horticulture-classes to register for all in-person and Zoom classes.

Landscaping Workshop at Chinn Park Library

On Saturday, Aug. 13, join Master Gardeners at Chinn Park Library for a workshop on creating beautiful landscapes with less environmental impact. Register to learn research-based practices for lawn and landscape care. Visit pwcgov.libnet.info/event/6553855 to sign up.

Online Learning and Resources

Looking for something where you can learn at your own pace? There are countless websites and courses available to help you accomplish your back (or front) yard dreams.

For the greenest yard on the block, try the inexpensive Yard Care Bootcamp course from The Lawncare Nut (yardcarebootcamp.com). The video-based course teaches you how to properly apply fertilizer, best mowing techniques, good watering practices, and more.

Perhaps your goal is to attract more butterflies and birds to your yard. Check out Udemy’s course Gardening Know How: Attracting Birds and Butterflies to prepare your plan for fall and next spring. Visit udemy.com/course/the-secret-to-a-bird-andbutterfly-filled-backyard for more information.

Interested in filling your landscape with native plants that will thrive without too much fuss? Check out the Guide to Native Plants for Northern Virginia. Visit plantnovanatives.org to download the free PDF or order an inexpensive hardcopy. Native plants add natural beauty and support local birds, butterflies, and pollinators!

You can even go a step further in supporting the local economy in your own backyard by buying from local growers. Download the free Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association Virginia Growers Guide at vnla.org/growers-guide, and find locally grown trees, shrubs, plants, and vegetables to beautify your
space.

Now you’re armed with an abundance of resources to make your yard the envy of the block. Put those green thumbs to work — either in person or on your computer mouse — and tap into all you have at your fingertips. Happy digging!

Erin Pittman is the Editor in Chief of Prince William Living. She loves to dig in the dirt in her little corner of the Earth. This year’s garden patches feature favorites for pollinators and plenty of herbs. She can be reached at epittman@princewilliamliving.com

 

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