By Paul James
Fescue is originally from Europe. It didn’t actually arrive in this country until the mid-19th century, but it’s been happy here ever since, first as a pasture grass and later as a turf grass in lawns across America, including Alaska and Hawaii. It’s even planted on the South Lawn of the White House. And here in Green Country, fescue is the go-to turf for shady spots, where it thrives with a little fertilizer and regular watering.
That’s not to say fescue is perfect, because it isn’t. It tends to thin out during really hot summers, it doesn’t grow all that well in the deep shade beneath large trees, and it needs not only regular watering, but quite a bit of water as well. Still, it performs well throughout most of the year, and it stays green during the winter months.
Fescue must be planted in spring or fall. Lots of diehard lawn lovers plant it twice a year and that’s fine, but fall planting tends to yield better results. Planting from seed is a simple, straightforward, and relatively inexpensive process that requires little effort. It’s best to use a blend of seeds that contains only tall fescues, or one that contains tall fescues blended with fine fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, or even ryegrass in varying percentages, rather than rely on a single variety. I’ve tried dozens of blends over the years, and while I’ve seen subtle differences in them, I truly believe that the best way to choose one over another is a coin toss.
The most important consideration when getting seed to germinate is even moisture, because dry seed simply will not sprout. Typically, that means watering every day to keep the top ¼-inch or so of soil moist. Do that, and you should see germination within seven to ten days.
Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about creating a lush fescue lawn, from tips on sowing the seed to weed control to fertilizing to mowing. That’s why I’m presenting a free seminar called “Fall is for Fescue” this Saturday at 10:00 am at Southwood. To register, CLICK HERE.