Best Grass Covered Dog Park
Maintaining a turf surface in a dog park with as much traffic as we have at Westgrove is a daunting task. Fairfax County Park Authority does not cover the additional cost of maintaining turf. Aerating, seeding, and mowing are all paid for by Westgrove PACK with funds donated by the users of the park.
We have a ground cover established in the south end which thrives in hot summer weather. It holds up well to foot and paw traffic, is drought tolerant, and needs minimal maintenance during the season. Unfortunately, it dies off in September when the weather starts to get cool and leaves us with bare earth until April.
Our original plan for the 2018 season was to seed with cool weather tall fescue to provide a mix of turf plants and hopefully have a cool weather grass that remains after the hot weather ground cover goes dormant. Unfortunately, this spring was exceptionally cold and by the end of April the temperatures were not sufficient to support seed germination.
Since the hot weather ground cover was by then well established, we decided to postpone the cool weather seeding until the fall. This enabled us to open the south end on May 3, but meant that the south end would need to close in the fall for 6-8 weeks for over seeding with tall fescue. This plan was discussed and approved at the May General Meeting. We had hoped to do that seeding in mid-September, but weather conditions required us to wait until October 11 or 12. Those seeds have sprouted, but the shoots are still too tender to support traffic. If possible, we will try to open some weekends over the winter, but not if it endangers the grass cover in April and May. We are reviewing the situation monthly in consultation with turf experts.
We planned to do a test planting of Zoysia, but weather conditions in 2018 were not favorable. That test has been rescheduled for early summer 2019. Zoysia is expensive, but if it takes it could be a year-round solution that would end the need for annual reseeding.
After the south end opened in the spring and traffic in the north end was reduced, the native crabgrass quickly re-established itself and the north end was green all summer. Unfortunately, the crabgrass goes dormant when the days get short and the nights get cool, so that area has gotten rather bare while the south end is closed for fall re-seeding. The poor drainage in the north end is also a continuing problem. For more information on our efforts to correct that problem, click here.
We are working with FCPA and other certified turf experts to develop long-term plans to continue to maintain the best possible turf surface. For updates please be sure to check this website and the park message board.
The Board of Westgrove PACK would like to thank our Caretakers for supporting these efforts. We would not have a turf dog park without your generous support. If you would like to get more involved in supporting our turf maintenance and improvement efforts, please contact the PACK..