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Fescue Grass 101: What It Is and How to Grow It

Fescue is a perennial grass that’s known for being climate-tolerant and a popular choice among northern homeowners. Read our guide to learn what you can expect when you grow a fescue lawn.

Fescue Grass Adobe

Fescue is known as cool-season grass with heat, cold, and drought tolerance. The grass is a popular selection for homeowners in the northern part of the country but is well-suited for areas that experience both warm and cool seasons.

Tall fescue is a low-maintenance grass with a signature bunch-forming growth pattern that rarely requires dethatching. Fescue’s deep roots are efficient in drawing nutrients out of your soil, and as a result, the grass typically requires less fertilizer than other cool-season grasses. To learn more about fescue grass’ characteristics, growing patterns, and care, read our guide to decide if it’s right for your yard.

Pros and Cons of Fescue Grass

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Requires little to no winter maintenance Is susceptible to brown patches during hot and humid summer months
Withstands heavy wear and tear May require overseeding during summer months
Doesn’t require extensive dethatching

Fescue Grass Basics

Fescue grass is a species consisting of multiple seed varieties, including tall fescue, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, and sheep fescue.

Tall Fescue Grass

Many tall fescue lawns are Kentucky 31 fescue, a type of tall fescue that’s known for its coarse appearance. Tall fescue grass is used in high-traffic areas like baseball fields and commercial sites because it’s durable and shade tolerant. This type of fescue has a deep root system that promotes health through periods of no rain.

Creeping Red Fescue Grass

Creeping red fescue gives off a deep green color and is characterized by its fine blades. Often, creeping red fescue is added to other grass seeds to promote shade tolerance and reduce fertilization needs.

Hard Fescue Grass

Hard fescue is used in grass seed blends to increase fertility and requires little mowing. This fescue variant is most commonly used in golf course roughs.

Chewings Fescue Grass

Chewings fescue is similar to tall fescue in that it grows in an upright fashion but is fine fescue with thin leaves. This type of fescue does well in the northern United States and Canada, and it is known for its drought-resistance.

Sheep Fescue Grass

Sheep fescue grass improves soil conditions and is used to curtail erosion. Like its counterparts, sheep fescue is a cool-season grass that does well in a variety of climates.

Growing Your Fescue Grass

Although fescue lawns don’t require heavy maintenance, there are a few simple tasks you’ll need to complete in order to grow a healthy, full fescue lawn:

  • Mowing—Planted fescue seeds need a few weeks to mature before being mowed. Once they are given time to grow, most fescue lawns can be mowed when the grass is at four inches. Mowing your fescue lawn allows the fescue clumps to spread among your yard and promote a thick, full yard. When mowing, you should only cut about an inch off.
  • Weeding—Fescue lawns thrive during the winter months as their thick blades typically ward off damaging weeds. However, during the summer months, you should keep an eye on your thinning lawn and regularly weed to ensure its health.
  • Watering—Although fescue is heat- and drought-resistant, it does need a little extra water during the summer months. Each fescue lawn is unique, so make sure you keep an eye on yours to ensure it receives the proper amount of watering.
  • Aerating—The best time to aerate a fescue lawn is during temperate fall or spring months. Fertilize your lawn after aeration to allow the fertilizer’s nutrients to penetrate the grass’ roots.

Seeing Results

It takes most fescue seeds 14 to 21 days to germinate and show signs of growth. Many factors affect the germination period, including the temperature, your soil’s oxygen level, and its watering schedule. Be patient with your fescue lawn, as it might require overseeding and a proper mowing for you to see a full, healthy lawn.

Using Professional Lawn Care Services

Lawn care professionals provide the expertise and skill set necessary to produce a healthy fescue lawn. With a lawn care provider, your lawn’s maintenance is taken care of so that you can get a full, green lawn without the headache. Purchasing the tools, nutrients, and products necessary to get the job done can add up, so paying for a lawn care service may save you money in the long run.

If you choose to go with a lawn service, consider the following cost factors:

  • Your local area
  • The size of your lawn
  • The health of your lawn
  • Your selected lawn care company

Best Lawn Care Company: TruGreen

With a variety of annual programs and a la carte services, TruGreen is the This Old House Reviews Team’s recommended lawn care company. The company offers a mobile app for instant customer service and offers pest control services in select locations.

If you’re looking for a customized quote from TruGreen, call 1-866-817-2287 or fill out this simple online form.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fescue Grass

What is the best fertilizer for fescue?

High-nitrogen, low-phosphorus fertilizer is ideal for most fescue varieties. It’s best to use a slow-releasing fertilizer to ensure your grass receives necessary nutrients over the course of a few months. Don’t over-fertilize your lawn as this causes the grass to grow too fast and require excessive mowing.

What does overwatered grass look like?

There are a few signs to look for when you suspect you’ve overwatered your lawn:

  • Water-logged grass hours after watering
  • An abundance of weeds
  • Yellow grass

When is the best time to water fescue grass?

The best time to water fescue, and most grass types, is early in the morning. This prevents excessive evaporation while ensuring that your yard doesn’t stay wet for too long.

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