Fescue is a perennial grass that’s not only easy to grow but is also low on maintenance; the main reason why most homeowners prefer it to other turfgrass varieties. Both varieties; Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and Fine fescue (Festuca spp.), are cool-weather lovers, tolerating cold, heat, and drought quite well.
Fine fescue, mainly, is more shade-tolerant than most cool-season turfgrasses. Both thrive in USDA hardiness zones two to seven.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fescue Grass
Before we look at how to grow this grassy species, let’s review some of the most frequently Googled questions.
What is fescue grass good for?
Fescue grass is an excellent candidate for lawns and pasture.
Does fescue come back every year?
Yes, though it may brown up in the summer heat. But it will once again regain its green tone once the temperatures get cooler. Fescue is an evergreen under the right conditions; however, it goes dormant in sweltering and dry weather.
What is a fescue lawn?
This could be a Tall fescue grass lawn, a Hard, Creeping red, Chewings, or a Sheep fescue grass lawn, among many other fescue grass cultivars.
Will fescue grow on top of the soil?
Yes. Like most grasses, fescue seeds also require light soil covering for an enhanced sprouting process. However, how well the seeds germinate will depend on preparing the ground.
How long does fescue grass last?
On average, the grass blades live for forty days, then they die off, meaning the grass must continue producing new blades for replacement. Fescues, in most cases, will require reseeding to boost their natural refilling process.
If stored in ideal conditions, the seeds will germinate even after three to five years.
How fast does fescue spread?
Though it sprouts faster, fescue grass grows and spreads slowly. This is because it spreads primarily via vertical shoots (tillers), which grow from the plant’s base. To encourage the turf to spread in the shady parts of your lawn, consider allowing it to grow ½ -1 inch higher than you would allow it in the sun.
Is fescue good for horses or goats?
Fescue is a nutritious forage option that is technically edible. However, the University of Oklahoma advises that this grass is not the best option for horses.
Will fescue choke out weeds?
Fine fescue releases meta-tyrosine (an amino acid) via its roots into the soil, acting as a built-in herbicide. When absorbed by the competing plants (through their roots), this acid causes stunted growth and, in some instances, death of the plants.
What’s the best climate for this turfgrass?
Fescue is a cool-weather turfgrass but can thrive in a warm climate.
Which is better, fescue or Bermuda grass?
Both types of grass are great for a lawn, even though they exhibit different growth habits and appearances.
Bermuda grass is coarse in texture, grows very fast, and thrives in warm climates. On the other hand, fescue has relatively delicate leaves and grows well in cold winter growing zones.
Consider your climate and the growing conditions in your yard before settling for a particular grass type.
Is Kentucky bluegrass a fescue?
Both Kentucky bluegrass and fescue are cool-season grasses, thriving in temperatures between 65-750°F.
Significant differences between the Kentucky bluegrass and fescue include the following:
-Thrives in USDA hardiness zones 1-9
-Slow seed germination rate.
-Spreads by rhizomes to form a tough, dense sod.
-Heals by itself—from wear or foot traffic injuries.
-Requires frequent mowing and fertilizing.
-Thrives in USDA hardiness zones 2-7.
-Faster seed germination process but grows slowly once established.
-Grows in bunches, therefore, doesn’t spread or create a dense sod as Kentucky bluegrass.
-You’ll need to reseed bare patches.
-Less mowing and fertilizing.
How to Grow Fescue Grass
Fescue will thrive in almost all soils provided it’s well-draining. Sow the seeds in the spring when your daytime temperatures reach around 750F.
Tip: Avoid planting in the winter and summer months because young fescues become dormant in temperatures above 900F and below 500F.
- Prepare the planting site by removing existing weeds and cultivating, then enriching with fertilizer.
- Rake the soil for a smooth surface, then sow the seeds. The University of Missouri suggests that eight pounds are sufficient for a 1,000 square feet lawn.
- Ensure you evenly distribute the seeds throughout the planting site to avoid clumping.
- Rake over the soil again once you’re done seeding, ensuring that the seeds are covered ¼ inch deep into the ground. Water generously.
- Consider spreading wheat straw or mulch over the final area to help with soil moisture retention and avoid unwanted erosion.
- Most fescue seeds will take between 14-21 days to germinate, though this process can be affected by various factors like the soil’s oxygen level, temperature, and watering schedule.
- At times you may have to overseed the lawn or maintain a proper regular mowing schedule for you to start noticing impressive results.
Pros and Cons of Growing Fescue Grass
Finally, here are some compelling reasons why you should (or should not) choose fescue for your lawn.
- Can withstand heat and drought.
- Requires less fertilizing as opposed to most cool-weather turfgrasses.
- Germinates faster but is a slow grower once established. Therefore, you won’t have to mow every weekend.
- Can thrive even in poor soils.
- Can withstand heavy wear and tear.
- Requires little to zero winter maintenance.
- Excellent for shady lawns.
- Quite vulnerable to pests and diseases, especially in wet conditions.
- It may require overseeding in the summer months.
The Takeaway: Fescue Grass Will Give You a Lush Green Lawn…If the Growing Conditions Are Right
Though it doesn’t require heavy maintenance, there are pretty simple tasks you’ll want to complete regularly to ensure a healthy, dense, fescue lawn.
- Watering: This turf is heat and drought resistant but offers it some little extra water in the summer. Ideally, every fescue lawn is unique; therefore, ensure you closely monitor yours to ensure that it receives the right amount of water. A good rule of thumb is 1-1 ¼ inches of water weekly.
- Weeding: The thick fescue blades will shield it against most weeds in the winter, however, you may need to weed it regularly in the summer months as this is the time it tends to thin.
- Aerating: Aerate in temperate spring and fall months. Apply fertilizer after aeration for easy penetration of the nutrients into the soil.
- Mowing: Only cut off approximately one inch. Delay your first mowing until the grass is four inches tall.