Fescue grass, popularly known as shade grass, from the Festuca genus, is a cool-season grass. Within the same genus, there is a whole variety of 300 different types of species offering a range of use with benefits besides shade tolerance. The ongoing and the latest research are coming up with incredible results.
The objective of this research is to develop the fescues better with new cultivars involved for drought tolerance, heat tolerance, disease, and insect tolerance. The improved fescues can be used in lawns like other types of grass, beautiful and beneficial for shade tolerance with low requirements of input.
Fescue grass is a popularly embraced idea for northern homeowners but is also a good fit for regions with fluctuating cold and warm season contemporaries.
Types Of Fescue Grass
There are two major types of fescue grass, namely, fine fescue and tall fescue, that you can grow in your lawns.
1. Fine Fescue Grass
Fine fescues belong to the family of fescues and are distinctly narrow with fine leaf blades. Fine fescues are the fescues mostly preferred for spreading across lawns. Fine fescues have 5 major species, namely, sheep fescue, hard fescue, chewing fescue, creeping red fescue, and slender creeping red fescue.
These varieties of fescues serve better turf vigor with a blended mix of seeds. Fine fescues are a great suit for maritime and low mountainous climates. One of the best fine fescue grass use is when it’s used as an eco-friendly turf lawn.
The fine fescue grass mixes together to provide a perfect blend for shade grass. However, they are also adaptable to sunny, warm locations. Fine fescues are a demand low maintenance and serve as lawns mowed regularly. The good thing about them is, they are still attractive even if left un-mowed for a while.
2. Tall Fescue Grass
Turf-type tall fescue, popularly known as a lawn grass that improved cultivators grow like common lawn grasses. Tall fescue grass is heat and drought-resistant. Unlike fine fescues, turf-type tall fescues come with wider leaf blades. Turf-type tall fescues are used in seed blends in regions with the requirements of drought-tolerant, slow-growing, and shade-loving turfs.
Mowing the tall fescue lawns on a monthly basis with relatively less water is sufficient. They have minimal requirements to thrive like conventional lawn grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass as well as perennial ryegrass.
Lawns growing turf-type tall fescue looks great as well as resists heat and drought. With turf-type tall fescue grown in a lawn, homeowners are offered a low-input maintained lawn. This is an unusual facility for grass.
How To Grow Fescue Grass
Fescue grasses are long grasses that are durable, lush, and drought-resistant, helpful for grazing pastures or even adding an ornamental look to your home lawn. The greatest benefit of growing fescue grasses is they can adapt to almost all kinds of soil as well as hot and warm weather types.
The fescue grass grows into a dense gathering which is quite helpful to choke weeds out. What makes fescue grasses the best choice for you is these popularly known cool-season grasses thrive well in water as well as drought conditions.
Typically grown as seeds and commonly available as a grass seed, these fescue grass can be grown by planting them both in the form of sod or grass. You need to follow certain steps to have a beautifully grown fescue lawn or just grow fescues that grow with these characteristics. Read on to learn them.
1. Time And Area
The time and the area where you plan to sow the grass seed by planting it in the soil hold utmost importance. To plant a fescue grass seed, the fall months, mostly during September, would be a great time. The spring has almost the same temperatures. however, summers are unpredictable.
Once the time has arrived, you need to select just the perfect area of your lawn to plant the fescue grass seed at 70 g per square meter. The area has to undergo heavy watering for several days before seeding. Water then reaches deep into the soil while softening the same.
You can also use an aerator to make the process easier. However, the soil should be left to dry up and should not get all muddy if an aerator is used.
2. Soil Preparation
It is critical to make sure that the soil is loose and welcomes the grass seed in. It should offer amiable conditions for the seeds to germinate. You can take the help of an aerator or a slit seeding machine. These are easily available for rentals.
Following the forecasted weather, make the arrangements, and you can rent the machine for a day accordingly. You can even use a garden weasel if you own a smaller lawn. Also, there is the option of renting a seed spreader.
Using the seed spreader moving backward on your lawn, make sure that the grass seeds are in contact with the soil but not too deep in it. An idea you can use to keep the seeds from being blown away in the wind is to spread some grass clippings over them.
3. The Moisture Of He Soil
After you’re done with the seeding, make sure to keep the soil moist for the following couple of weeks. Extensive moisturizing of the soil is important until the seeds start germinating.
As the newly planted grass seed starts to grow, it is crucial to get rid of the fall leaves away from their area. This is for the new blades to grow well in the presence of sunlight and ample space. Even you need to keep your feet away from the lawn.
4. The Final Process
Mowing the lawn when the length of the grass blades surpasses 2 and a half inches, followed by scraping the fallen grass clipping away, is the finale. You have grown yourself a lush and gorgeous fescue grass lawn.
Common Diseases Among Fescue Grass
Fungal diseases are common across fescue lawns. It is quite usual that homeowners grow fescue grasses in their lawns without even spraying fungicides for years. These diseases typically occur under specific weather conditions and fade away when those conditions disappear.
However, the spring and the fall seasons may see the occurrence of rust, pythium, dollar spot, brown patch, or leaf spot on your fescue grass lawns. To counter the same, early-morning or mid-day irrigation schedules will be helpful for quicker evaporation of the soil moisture.
Such fungal diseases often pose a difficulty in identification. This may lead to cases like how spring disease outbreaks aren’t recognized unless it is the cause of a bigger problem. That is why it’s important to inspect your lawn every two days to make sure of the absence of these diseases.
You’ll be looking for brown patches or damaged patches of grass that have distinct outlines. If you find any such appearance, there’s no need to panic or spray fungicide over the entire lawn immediately. Choose to watch for a couple of days if these damaged patches of grass show any expansion.
Fungal diseases traditionally run their course naturally. You’ll notice an expansion in an active patch with diseased turf as they grow concentrically within those two days.
Another type of fungus is endophytes that grow symbiotically with the fescue plant. However, these fungi aren’t the cause of any harm to the plant. Instead, they enable these turfgrasses to be drought and heat-resistant. They provide the fescue grasses the ability to resist insects and mammals.
How to Care for Fescue Grass
Fescue grass tends to remain lush green on your lawns if fed with good care and nutrients. The methods you can follow for maintaining your fescue grass lawn are mowing, fertilizing, aerating, overseeding, and watering.
As per your needs, mowing your lawn every 2-3 weeks generally and every week during spring will keep your fescue grass neat. Make sure not to mow off greater than 1/3 of the grass length. In summer, when grass growth slows down, you can lessen the mowing.
Fescue grasses grow best during the fall. Overseeding fills up your lawn with cool-season grass seed in the bare patches and holes. Fall is the season for overseeding as the temperatures of the soil are then below 65 degrees.
Aerating loosens the compaction of the soil, which makes it difficult for useful nutrients, water, and air to reach the turf roots. If you aerate the soil of your lawn once every year, it’ll keep your soil from being too compact.
The lawn is fertilized to add the missing nutrients to the soil. Fertilizing makes your lawn grow thicker and healthier turfs.
Fertilizing 2-4 times every year, preferably in mid-September, during November, During March, or late-April. The amount of fertilization depends on the type of soil. No fertilizing is required during warm weather during the spring and the summer seasons.
As being aid that fescue grass is adaptable to drought conditions, they don’t need ample water to remain lush and green through the year. However, occasional watering would only add to the benefit of these fescue grasses. You can use sprinklers to water your lawn. This enables the grass some time to absorb the water.
Fine fescue grass or tall fescue grass both make a good fit for a lush, green, and beautiful lawn for homeowners. They require low inputs and are easy to be maintained.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.