A sample of the type of advice master gardeners give county residents, in this case on caring for a lawn:

* To maintain a healthy lawn and reduce the potential for water contamination, it is important to fertilize at the right time. Fertilize cool-season lawns (Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass) in the fall. Fertilize warm-season grasses (Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, centipede grass) in the summer.

* Plants signal when they need water; turf grass lies flat after being walked on and turns a gray-green color. Many plants lose their shine and droop a little.

* Water lawns early in the morning during hot weather. Otherwise, much of the water will evaporate before the grass can use it. To further avoid excess evaporation, use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water instead of a fine mist.

* Among the cool-season grasses, tall fescue consumes 10 percent more water than bluegrass. Ryegrass uses approximately the same amount of water as bluegrass.

* If you water your lawn, consider reducing its size to save water. Try joining trees into beds with shrubs and ground covers. Also, try to eliminate hard-to-water lawn areas, such as narrow strips between walkways and buildings or irregularly shaped areas.

* If you plan to do some landscape planting this fall, now is a good time to decide on the plants to use and how to arrange them. Since families in the United States move on average every five years, it makes sense to buy the largest plants you can afford and enjoy them now.

* Mow before going on vacation. If you will be gone more than two weeks, arrange to have the lawn cut while you are away. If you don't, too much of the top growth will be removed at the next mowing. Removal of more than a third of the growth at one time weakens the plants.

* Plan to rejuvenate or plant home lawns in the fall.

* Be cautious if you wish to kill grass and weeds growing through cracks in patios, garden walks or driveways. Many weedkillers can leach into surrounding areas and damage ornamentals or lawn. Pulling the weeds is the safest approach, but you may wish to use a contact herbicide, such as those containing glyphosate.

SOURCE: Virginia Cooperative Extension