Tall fescue is a perennial bunch-type grass that grows rapidly during spring and fall. Because of its bunch-type growth, spring pre emergence herbicides generally are needed to keep a lawn relatively free of weeds. Not recommended to mix with bluegrass as the bunching characteristics will create unsightly patches.
While some of the older varieties are still available in some stores, these should be avoided. These are the coarse textured Kentucky 31 type.
There are now many improved tall turf cultivars that have a finer texture, but not as fine as bluegrass. Many have improved disease and insect resistance.
The turf type tall fescue is good for high-traffic home lawns and shady areas. It has better drought tolerance than bluegrass, but does require additional watering in extreme conditions. Tall fescue will grow in either partial shade or sun. It grows well beneath trees that shed their leaves in winter.
There is some confusion between tall fescues, turf-type tall fescues and fine fescue. For most home lawns, only consider the turf-type tall fescues except for blends, which could include Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescues and some type of perennial ryegrass.
For cool season and transitional areas of the country, these blends are well suited. As the seedlings establish themselves, the one best suited for particular areas (shady / sunny) of the lawn will become predominate.
Turf-type tall fescue is becoming a popular turfgrass for homes and industrial sites. Turf-types are coarser than bluegrass, but not as thick as traditional tall fescue commonly used as pasture grasses.
The fescue is a bunch type grass, as opposed to the rhizomatic growth of bluegrass. Newer cultivars have the same rich green color as bluegrass.
Tall fescue are more drought resistant that many other lawn grasses such as bluegrass or perennial ryegrass. Fescue roots penetrate deeper into the soil. Tall fescues are more disease resistant and wear tolerant, making them ideal for heavy foot traffic areas and athletic fields. Like bluegrass, they are considered a cool season grass, remaining green for 8 - 9 months out of the year.
Tall fescues must remain dense to keep blades thin. Proper mowing and fertilizing practices help keep blades thin; overseeding every other year may be necessary to improve the stand. Tall fescue sown in early fall has plenty of time to develop deep roots before the following summer. However, if your lawn needs re-seeding and fall is long passed, you can get good results planting tall fescue seed in early spring.
Tall fescue should be treated just like bluegrass, though seeded at the rate of 6 — 8 pounds per 1000 square feet. During hot weather, fescue will go dormant and turn brown. That doesn't meant it has died, just gone dormant. When cooler weather returns, it will green up again.
Fertilize yearly with 2 — 4 pounds of nitrogen, following the same format as a bluegrass lawns. Fertilize with one pound in May; the other 2 pounds in September and late October.
Kitty Hawk 2000
Southern Choice II
Tall fescue was introduced into the United States from Europe in the early 1800's. The grass can be found growing in low, damp pastures and wet meadowlands throughout Europe, North Africa and North America.