Tall Fescue is a medium-to-wide-bladed grass which tolerates a wide range of soil and shade conditions as well as has good heat, drought and wear tolerance. Tall fescue has few pest problems but is subject to funguses under warm, wet conditions.
Tall fescue grows fast and requires mowing often in the spring and fall but will not tolerate a low mowing. Tall fescue is a bunch type growth grass and does not recover very well from injury, therefore requires reseeding if bare spots appear. To combat the potential problem we have blended very well researched bluegrass cultivars into our fescue seed blend.
Tall Fescue Maintenance Calendar
March through May
Tall fescue should be mowed at 2.5 to 4 inches. Mow often to prevent removing more than on-third of the leaf blade. It is not necessary to remove clippings unless they were to clump on the surface of your lawn. Mowing more often to prevent clipping buildup is better than empting a bagger.
Do not fertilize fescue after May 1 in the spring. Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in March or early April. Take soil test to determine phosphorus and potassium requirements. Apply lime if soil sample suggest. Do not apply more than 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in the spring to determine the amount of fertilizer product required to apply 1.0 pound of nitrogen per square feet divide 1.0 by the first number (%) in the fertilizer ratio. Example: for the 20-5-5 (containing 20% nitrogen) divide 1.0 by .20 (note: 20% = 0.20). The result is 5 pounds of product per thousand square feet.
Watering is seldom needed in the spring except for newly sodded areas or unless dry, hot windy conditions for an extended period. A dark, bluish gray color, foot-printing and wilted or curled leaves indicate the need to water.
Apply a preemerge herbicide to control crabgrass. Apply from late February to early March.
Check for insect pests and treat if necessary.
Core aerify compacted areas as needed to improve root system, water infiltration and soil aeration.
June through August
Tall fescue should be mowed every 5 to 7 days or less often when the lawn is drought stressed.
Do not fertilize at this time.
Do not use herbicides at this time.
Check for insect pest and treat if necessary.
September through November
Tall fescue should be mowed every 5 to 7 days and less often when drought stressed. If you raised your mowing height during the summer, you may gradually lower the mower to the preferred height.
Fertilize with 1.0-1.5 pounds of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet in mid-September and again in November. Apply lime if needed. Take soil test sample for analysis every 2-3 years to determine your lawns nutrient requirements. Be sure to specify your lawn species.
Irrigation is usually necessary in September but needed less frequently the remainder of the fall. Fescue may require watering periodically when dry windy weather occurs. Continue to irrigate as needed by following the June through August guidelines.
Apply herbicides to control dandelions and other weeds of needed.
Check for insect pests and treat if needed.
Overseed thin bare spots as grass begins to respond to cooler temperatures in September and early October. Use a blend of tall fescue at 8-10 pounds per thousand square feet. Apply a starter type (high phosphorus) fertilizer at time of seeding if soil test indicate a need. Keep seed moist with light, frequent waterings to ensure good seed germination.
Core aerify in compacted areas.
Removal of leaves is extremely important to turf maintenance. Prompt removal of fallen leaves is necessary to decrease shade on turf.
December through February
Remove debris from lawn (sticks, rocks and leaves). Mow as needed.
Do not fertilize.
Fescue may require watering when dry, windy weather prevails
Apply broadleaf herbicides as needed to control chickweed, henbit or other weeds.
Removal of leaves is key to turf management. Prompt removal of leaves is necessary to decrease shade on turf.