If you’ve been looking for ways to have the perfect lawn and you currently have fescue grass in your yard or are considering it, then we have a few tips and tricks for you. Keeping your fescue lawn lush and green is the name of the game, so from lawn fertilization to lawn maintenance and even weed control, we want your lawn to be as trouble-free as possible for you to enjoy year-round. So, let’s start with some fescue basics.
Benefits of Fescue Lawns
As you may or may not know, fescue grass is extremely tolerant when it comes to temperature changes, especially as compared to many other types of grass. In addition, it adapts well to shady areas of your yard, and it requires minimal lawn maintenance. When you add to that the fact that fescue stays green year-round and is fairly drought resistant, you have the solid grass to consider. Fescue does require more prudent weed control measures than zoysia and Bermuda grass because those varieties spread like a carpet, locking out weeds, where weeds in fescue grass have better access to the soil and can be a more significant issue.
Types of Fescue Grass
There are two basic types of fescue grass, and they are broad-leaved fescue and fine leaf fescue. Broad-leaved fescue includes bunching grasses called tall fescue. Fine fescue grasses are a bit more shade and cold tolerant than the tall fescue, however, both are used throughout much of the southeast as well as other parts of the country. Both types of fescue are preferred over many other grass species since they don’t need as much fertilizer and are extremely eco-friendly. The new and improved tall fescue grasses offer significant improvements for sports fields and lawns. The name is somewhat misleading since the tall fescues introduced over the past two decades aren’t really tall at all.
The fine fescue grass types include sheep fescue, creeping red, chewings fescue, and hard fescue. The seed for these species of fine fescue can be mixed with the seeds of other grasses, like bluegrass for example, since they will complement each other. And, many of them have been improved upon over the years via breeding. Since each type has different characteristics, this breeding has resulted in a combination of fine fescue grasses that have the endurance to handle humidity, heat, and wear and tear that many other grass varieties are unable to.
1.) Creeping Red Fescue
Creeping red differs from other fine fescues because its growth habits include creeping along the ground via short stems that can also run underground. Creeping red possesses narrow dark green blades that also have just a little red coloring at the base of the leaves. This fescue can be grown in single stands, and it really loves cool shady areas even more than most other cool-season grasses. It will often be added to perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, or bluegrass mixtures for the purpose of improving them. This is because it greatly increases their shade tolerance as well as their drought resistance. In fact, this particular species of fine fescue tends to be used more often in a number of grass seed mixtures, as well as for overseeding, than any other type of grass. It’s also easily maintained and non-aggressive.
2.) Hard Fescue
Hard fescue offers a growth habit that is known as the bunch-type and it’s somewhat like tall fescue in that sense but with upright leaves that are quite narrow. It’s also one of the hardiest fescue types, as well as being drought and disease resistant. With its lovely blue-green color, it grows under even the most adverse conditions and in a clump-formation. In addition, hard fescue stays greener for longer, is low maintenance, and slow-growing, making it excellent for areas of your yard that aren’t easily maintained. It is also the only fescue grass that offers a certain amount of tolerance to salt.
3.) Chewings Fescue
Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra commutata) looks very much like tall fescue mainly in the way that it grows. It offers a bunch-type growth pattern and grows more upright than creeping red. It does, however, have narrow leaves like the other members of the fine fescue type. And, actually, chewings is a member of the family of red fescue grasses. It is predominantly used for adding to other mixtures of grass seeds like the ever-popular mixture of chewings and perennial ryegrass. In fact, adding chewings brings about a significant improvement in the ability of the predominant grasses to perform. Just like all other fescues, chewings are drought resistant, will grow quite vigorously in the shade, and can blend nicely with just about any species of grass. It may not be quite as tolerant to wear as some of the other fescue grasses, but it can live in sandier soil with high acidity and low fertility. You can mow it as low as 1.5 inches, and the seeds only take approximately 14 days to germinate.
4.) Sheep Fescue
Sheep fescue aka “Festuca Ovina” is a perennial and extremely tolerant to both drought and shade, blooming mainly during the months of June and July. It grows in a variety of soil types, including dry, sandy, loamy, and even acidic soils. It is useful for erosion control and as a groundcover, being widely used for pastures, banks, and reclamation, as well as for adding an interesting texture to landscaping. Sheep fescue is often an overlooked fescue species and was once thought to be of use only for the prevention of soil erosion. It grows so slowly that it only needs to be mowed once or twice per year. When it is left uncut, it becomes a carpet of grass that is quite meadow-like. But, it’s also very tough and can flourish even in poor soil. Fertilizing sheep fescue can be a mistake because all of those additional nutrients can end up benefiting the weeds more than the grass. It thrives under acidic soil conditions, much more so than any other turfgrass possibly can. Once sheep fescue has become well-established, it’s practically invulnerable to drought.
Fescue grass can get by with very little fertilization but can benefit tremendously from a good year-round program. You should be careful fertilizing fescue lawns when it is hot out, or there is little moisture in the topsoil. During these periods of drought or dry conditions, it is advised to use a granular fertilizer that only releases when there is rain, morning dew, or the lawn is watered. When in doubt, however, let a lawn fertilization specialist handle this aspect of your overall lawn maintenance.
Most types of fescue will perform their best in any soil that has a pH of 5.5 to 8.0. Soil deficiencies will cause the following symptoms:
Boron – Immature growth and yellowing grass.
Calcium – Newer leaves are very small, and grass is rust-colored.
Iron – New grass turns yellow.
Magnesium – Foliage appears yellowish-green and edges are red-tinted.
Manganese – Newer grass turns yellow.
Molybdenum – Mature grass turns gray-green.
Nitrogen – Older leaves are turning yellow/green with very little new growth.
Potassium – Tips and edges look burnt.
Sulfur – Mature leaves turning yellow.
Zinc – Grass appears to shrivel and become smaller.
Fescue grass is quite resistant to common pests. However, if you should start seeing any insects or other destructive pests, contact us for pest control just like you would for weed control. At WinLAWN, we specialize in helping you not only with lawn maintenance but also with lawn care that keeps your lawn free of all pests, weeds, and diseases. These things can affect your well-being and your family’s enjoyment of your yard.
Fescue doesn’t require mowing nearly as often as many other grass species, making it environmentally friendly. Tall fescue should be mowed to 3″ to 3.5″ in height, and the grass clippings should be left on the lawn sometimes for natural fertilization. When you mow to that height, it will give your lawn an evenly-textured finish. However, athletic fields should be mowed to between 2 and 3 inches in height. On the other hand, creeping red fescue should be mowed to just 2″ to 2.5″ in height. Hard fescue should be mowed to 1.5″ to 2.5″ and chewing fescue to 3.5″ to 4″. For best results and much less work for you, you might want to consider regular professional lawn care service.
Unlike many other species of grass, fescue grasses require little sunlight. That’s what makes them perfect for so many yards and businesses. If you’re a homeowner or own a business in Georgia, you want the most worry-free lawn possible so that you can enjoy life without stressing about how much light your grass is or isn’t getting.
In addition to its need for shade, fescue grass does need water for it to thrive, but it requires less watering than many other common types of grass. Over-Watering could lead to various kinds of fungal diseases that are commonly occurring in our hot and humid climate. And, in an era of consistent drought in many states, including Georgia, this makes it the perfect lawn for effective water conservation. Since fescue is so drought-tolerant, when drought or water deprivation hits, it can go dormant, returning after sufficient water becomes available.
Despite its pest resistance, fescue needs proper care to prevent a takeover by weeds. Fescue is a tough lawn to keep weeds out of and needs a good year-round plan consisting of pre and post-emergent weed control. Your best bet is to consult lawn care experts to best maintain your fescue lawn and keep it weed-free. We have the expertise necessary for controlling any weed that might invade your yard. So, don’t wait until they take over, call us when you first start noticing their presence.