Fescue grass is well-known in domestic lawns in the US as it is adaptable to various climatic conditions. It can withstand extreme cold and hot temperatures and is also known for surviving through drought and without sunlight for numerous days. Due to this property of fescue grass, it provides lawn owners with a chance to have resilient and durable lawns throughout the year.
What is Fescue Grass at a Glance?
- It is a perennial type of grass with exceptional properties of withstanding cold and heat.
- Its scientific name is Festucaarundinacea.
- It grows up to 12 inches in its mature form in soil having pH 5.5 to 7.
- Very good for growing in northern and transition zones.
- Highly tolerant to drought and shaded conditions.
- Disease resistant.
- It has an inherent property of growing in bunch-formation.
- It shows a minimal capacity for self-repair.
Characteristics of Fescue Grass
Fescue grass has leaves that are wide and tall with a dark green color that remains unchanged even during extreme winter. The blades of this grass are very coarse, and the leaves have a shiny appearance. This type of grass is widely known for its growing habit – which is upright and in bunches – and is also known as bunchgrass.
Though rhizomes are present in the fescue grass, it is usually spread and cultivated by seed distribution. If planted with any other type of grass, fescue grass dominates the lawns but spreads in various clumps of bunches rather than blending in with the other grass.
How to Grow Fescue Grass?
It is a cool-season grass and the ideal time to plant fescue grass is during fall and spring. There is no danger of overseeding when growing fescue grass as overseeding might benefit its growth as it overcomes clumps and fills in the patches. As fescue grass is known to be highly tolerant of extreme conditions, such as drought, there is no need for frequent fertilization.
The roots of this grass grow very deep – up to about 2 to 3 feet. Thus, a deep root system helps fescue grass grow even without regular watering. It is a very eco-friendly grass that can grow in both light or shade conditions. This grass also does not require any special soil for plantation as it has a deep root system and can adapt to almost every kind of soil.
Varieties of Fescue Grass
1. Tall Fescue Grass
Tall fescue grass is the most common one. Almost all the domestic gardens in the US have this variety of fescue grass. Tall fescue leaves have thin blades that are not sharp.
- Black Beauty: It has a high resistance to various diseases and pests.
- Dense Shade Mix: It is a mix of various tall fescue grass, providing excellent durability and shade resistance with fast growth.
2. Hard Fescue grass
This variety is most suitable for high elevation areas of the northern United States. Hard fescue grass is highly salt resistant, which is why it is suitable for snow treatment. This variety does not need mowing at all.
3. Chewings Fescue Grass
Though this variety is mostly confused with tall fescue grass, it has a fine texture and grows upright, unlike the tall fescue. Chewings fescue grass grows well in sandy soils. It is also drought-resistant.
4. Creeping Red Grass
This variety of fescue grass is often planted with other cool-season grass types to increase the weather tolerance of the turf. It is mostly found in shaded areas, and it does not require much watering.
5. Fescue Blends
This is an ideal mixture of various types of grass that go well with fescue grass. It is used for enhancing the durability of the lawn with lots of different properties combined.
Common Pests and Diseases in the Fescue Grass
The dwarf varieties of the fescue grass used in various turf mixes are vulnerable to a fungal disease called the brown patch. The symptoms of this disease start to appear during mid-summer. If the symptoms appear, the only solution is to remove the affected grass and reseed them to fill in the patches.
How to Care for Fescue Grass
If you want your lawn to stay green all year round, nothing is better than fescue grass. However, even a low-maintenance lawn grass such as fescue requires some hard work – which is why, with the right amount of nutrition and irrigation, you can have a beautiful green garden throughout the year. Let us jump right to how you should care for fescue grass.
Typically, fescue grass grows tall (except the dwarf varieties). However, the ideal length of the fescue grass blades should be maintained at about 2-3 inches. This requires periodic mowing. As fescue grass is very resistant to cold temperatures as well, it may grow tall during the winter when you cannot mow your lawn regularly. However, the first thing you should do once spring starts is to mow your lawn and take off one-third of the grass length.
Do not cut off a lot of the grass length as it may leave the grass stressed. Slowly increase the frequency of mowing during the spring until the grass growth slows down. By doing this, you can have an ideal growing grass in the summers with less need for mowing.
2. Over seeding and Sodding
One of the properties of the fescue grass is that it grows vertically rather than horizontally. This implies that to help fill in the patches and holes in the lawn; you need to overseed the fescue grass. As it is a cool-season grass, it ideally grows after germination during the cool periods in the fall. Soil temperatures during the fall season go below 65 degrees. Therefore, it is the best time to overseed your lawn.
Sodding is best if your lawn is new and you need fescue grass for it. Fall is also the ideal season for sodding a cool-season grass such as fescue.
Another important aspect of caring about fescue grass includes aerating the soil. Soil is bound to become compacted with so much growth. This posits difficulty for the nutrients and water to reach down the roots and hinders growth. It is suggested that you aerate your soil at least once every year. This helps significantly in breaking the compaction and allowing room to breathe.
Not all types of soil are nutrient-rich. Often, the soil lacks numerous important minerals and nutrients that are required for the ideal growth of the grass. Such a situation requires the use of fertilizers. Fertilizers add nutrients to the soil and help protect from various diseases. The best way to go about it is to have your soil tested. This will give you an idea of how nutrient-rich your soil is and what nutrients it is missing.
Once you know what kind of nutrients your soil needs, you can get fertilizers accordingly. It is best if you fertilize your fescue grass 2 to 4 times in a year during early fall to early spring.
Though fescue grass can do well without regular watering, it is suggested that you irrigate your grass periodically. If rain falls less than an inch in a week, you can increase the frequency of watering a little bit.
6. Weed Control
Various types of weeds are common in fescue grass, such as goosegrass, chickweed, clover, and wild violet. Some weeds tend to grow with fescue during winter while others grow in summer. What helps in taming these weeds is to use any herbicide during fall and spring. Depending on the type and frequency of growth of weeds, you can apply the herbicide more than once during fall or spring.
Ensure that applying herbicide is only effective when you have no plans for overseeding or aerating, preventing the new seeds from emerging. A pre-emergent herbicide is used as prevention and when you have no weed growth in your yard as yet. On the other hand, if your yard has already grown weeds, you need to use a post-emergent herbicide.
7. Disease and Pest Control
Pests and diseases are common in fescue grass. For healthy growth of the fescue grass, it is important to apply fungicides and pesticides from late spring to the end of the summer. Pests, such as cutworms, armyworms, and white grubs, can harm your garden. Therefore, choosing the right pesticide or fungicide is important for maintaining healthy fescue grass.
Due to its high resistance to extreme temperatures, fescue grass is a highly popular choice for domestic lawns in the United States. It stays green all year round, given that it is taken care of properly. Without proper maintenance, such as mentioned above, fescue grass can lose its color and wilt. Therefore, it is essential to properly irrigate and fertilize fescue grass while also working on choosing the right pesticides for increasing the health of the grass.