Fescue to the Rescue

If you’re like the majority of American homeowners you go through the annual struggle with keeping your lawn looking green and healthy. In many cases, part of the problem is the types of grasses commonly used in sod in many areas of the country, doesn’t stand up well to the hot, dry conditions common in summertime. Trying to make these grasses stay green during the summer is often an exercise in frustration, costing lots of time, money and effort while producing minimal results. A growing number of people are recognizing that if they want to keep their lawns looking good all summer, they’re going to need to make some changes. One of the changes people are making is introducing fescue grasses into their lawn.


You may have heard of fescue grass and if you’re a golfer think of it as that tall, wiry grass that grows knee high in the rough and makes it impossible to find your golf ball. However, the fescue grass category is made up of over one hundred different varieties of grasses and not all fescues are the same. Some varieties like red fescue or hard fescue actually have broad green leaves and grow very slowly – meaning they don’t grow tall and wiry, but stay relatively low to the ground.

 What’s so good about fescue grasses?

Fescue grasses have a number of common characteristics that make them a great addition to a lawn.

  • Fescues are well suited to cooler climates and because they are drought resistant they’re also great in drier climates.  As well, they stay green most of the year, are slow growing and don’t like to be cut too short (1 ½ to 2 inches is an ideal height). All of which means, you don’t need to cut your lawn as often – saving wear and tear on both you and the environment.
  • Fescues generally like slightly acidic, sandy, well drained soils, but will also grow quite well in cool, damp or shady spots as well as clay soils with lots of organic material. So it’s hard to find a soil type they won’t grow in and this versatility makes them ideal for planting in those hard to grow areas, like under trees that shade an area and drop their leaves every fall.
  • Fescues are also more insect resistant than many other types of grasses meaning you won’t need to worry about grubs taking over your lawn or spending money on pesticides.

So how do I ‘introduce’ fescue grass into my lawn?

  • Working with an established lawn, probably the best way is to overseed your lawn with fescue seeds (preferably in the fall, after the heat of the summer). Mix the fescue seeds in with other grass seeds and scatter them on top of your lawn.
  • Top dressing your lawn prior to seeding or adding fall fertilizer along with overseeding will help the seed take root. Fall fertilizers have a high percentage or nitrogen (first number).  (Fertilizer ingredients are listed in the order of N (Nitrogen)-P (Phosphorus)-K (Potassium).
  • Fescue seeds used to be hard to find and primarily available only on the internet but because of consumer demand they are now becoming more commonly available at nurseries and garden centers as well.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He can be contacted by email at -  murand@lycos.com