Fescue is a cool season grass that remains green during
the winter. Although it grows best in moist environments,
tall fescue has fairly good drought tolerance if not
mowed too low during the warm season (no less than 4
inches in height). Tall fescue is adapted to a wide
range of soils, but does best on clay soils high in
organic matter. Tall fescue is well adapted to the "transition
zone" of the United States where summers are too
hot and humid for most other cool season grasses and
winters too cold for warm season grasses.
performs best in the South with some afternoon shade,
however will remain healthy in appearance during summer
under irrigated conditions. Although its wear tolerance
is considered good for cool season grasses, it is not
nearly as wear tolerant as bermudagrass.
Types of Fescue
compose a large genus of about 100 species of grasses.
Kentucky 31 is a deep rooted, cool season perennial
grass best grown for pastures. The plant produces vigorous
growth in the spring and fall and its extensive root
system helps it withstand drought conditions when maintained
above 6 inches in height.
'Turf-type' Tall Fescues are finding
widespread acceptance as lawn grasses in the transition
zone, and, in the southern region perform better in
more sun than Ky. 31. With proper management tall fescue
can survive in densely shaded sites that warm season
grasses cannot tolerate. The improved turf-type fescues
retain better color during the winter months and provide
a year-round green lawn.
Fescue is the newest generation of turf-type fescue.
This unique variety is self-repairing as it spreads
from underground rhizomes.
A well prepared
seedbed is essential for establishing tall fescue. The
site must be well-drained so attention should be given
to final grading of the site.
planting fescue in areas that receive afternoon shade.
and some annual grasses are particularly troublesome
in tall fescue turf. Steps should be taken prior to
planting to eliminate these undesirable grasses. Herbicides
containing glyphosphate, such as Roundup or Killzall,
can be used to eliminate bermudagrass prior to planting
is the optimum time to establish tall fescue from either
seed or sod. Spring plantings of tall fescue may be
successful, but the risk of losing immature plants to
summer heat and drought stress is greater.
be mowed at a height no less than 3 1/2 inches during
the warm season for best performance and drought tolerance.
Keep your mower blades sharp for neat appearance of
turf. During the peak growing season mow one time a
week, making sure not to remove more than 1/3 height
of foliage during a cutting.
tall fescue tolerates low fertility, it responds to
fertilization, particularly nitrogen. Fertilize in early
spring with a slow-release, high nitrogen fertilzer
such as 27-4-6. Fertilize again in mid-spring with 16-4-8
or a lawn fertilizer with similar numbers. Apply 27-4-6
again in fall.
a wide range in soil reaction, but performs best between
pH 6.5 and 8.0. At pH levels below 6.5 limestone should
be added according to soil test recommendations. To
determine whether or not you need to apply lime to the
lawn, test your soil, or have it tested for pH through
your local Extension Service. The Extension Service
will provide a detailed analysis of the soil samples
and give recommendations as to whether, or how much
lime need be applied to correct soil pH.
is very important to the survival of tall fescue. Do
not apply supplemental irrigation until the grass shows
signs of needing water (wilting or rolling leaves).
Then, apply enough water to wet the soil to a depth
of 3 to 4 inches. If runoff occurs before the soil is
moistened to a sufficient depth, turn the sprinkler
off and allow the water to percolate into the soil.
Then turn the sprinkler back on at a later time. Repeat
this cycle until the soil is sufficiently moistened.
Tall fescue requires frequent watering during summer
months when ther is not adequate rainfall, which is
considered by some to be one of the disadvantages to
growing tall fescue in the southern region.
is fairly tolerant to most turfgrass diseases. However,
brown patch can become a problem during rainy warm months.
Once the disease is properly identified, treat the lawn
with a fungicide.
fescue lawns become thin after hot, dry summer conditions.
Therefore, t's usually necessary to overseed fescue
lawns in the fall - sometime between mid-September and
mid-October. Start by mowing the lawn to a height of
2 inches before broadcasting seed. Rake the lawn to
remove grass clippings and other debris. Aerate with
a core aerator making two to three passes over the area
to be reseeded. Apply seed at 2 to 3 lbs. per 1,000
sq. ft and then broadcast a starter fertilizer. These
steps are usually adequate to rejuvenate the lawn. After
seeding, keep the soil moist for 2 to 3 weeks.