We all want a luscious, green, healthy lawn to inspire envy in our neighbors.
Fescue grass is one of those great-looking grass types, but plenty complain about its spreading abilities.
Fescue grass is not a spreading plant. It grows atypically upright, so it does not spread sideways across entire lawns. Instead, plant large amounts of seeds close together to guarantee a full lawn without bare spots.
Keep reading to learn how fescue grass grows and the best way to guarantee a full, vibrant lawn.
How Does Fescue Grass Spread?
Tall fescue is clump-forming turf grass.
This type of cool-season grass grows using upright tillers.
These sprout from the basal shoot of the parent plant.
Grasses capable of spreading use stolons, offshoots above ground, rhizomes, or underground offshoots to grow laterally.
Spreading grasses can fill in the bare spots in lawns on their own, making them more desirable grasses, while non-spreading grasses are more susceptible to needing reseeding.
Tall fescue has its own way of filling in the lawn, despite the rhizome’s absence.
Each fescue plant has several tillers, so the healthy grass appears denser than it really is.
Unfortunately, fescue still can’t spread to fill in bare patches on your lawn.
How Long Does It Take Fescue Grass to Grow?
It takes about two weeks for tall fescue to germinate from seeds into seedlings.
Environmental factors affect the germination rate of fescue and all other grass plants.
First, the soil itself must be at the right pH level.
The pH is the level of acidity in the soil.
Ideally, the soil should have a pH level close to neutral, which is 7.
The ideal range for this type of grass is 5.8 to 6.5.
Acidic soil will discourage growth.
If you are worried about acidic soil, send soil samples to a lab for testing.
It does well in most soil types as long as these conditions are met.
Fescue also needs daily watering to nurture it to grow and ideal soil temperatures.
The soil should be kept at 60-65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) to encourage growth.
Because it’s not one of the warm-season grasses, it’s best not to plant it in the dead of summer.
Its cold tolerance is pretty good, but only when it’s had the chance to sprout and grow well.
If fescue is kept in ideal conditions, it may sprout as quickly as four days.
If you have planted the seeds close enough together, they will grow together to fill in any bare patches in the entire lawn.
The plant grows a whole 2″ inches every week.
Preventing Bare Spots With Fescue Grass
There are a few ways to encourage your fescue to grow together, prevent gaps, and create a uniform appearance.
First, spread the seeds during the right time of the year, which is during the spring.
Fescue is a cool-season lawn species.
Hot conditions are not suitable for fescue grass’s growth, so you want to plant in advance of temperatures exceeding 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).
At the same time, you want to wait until after the last frost.
The best time to plant is between 60-70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
If you plant during this timeframe, the plants will have developed roots of 2-3″ inches by the time summer rolls around.
The plants can stay cool enough in the summer with deep enough roots.
If you are worried about planting early enough in the spring, another option is to plant in early fall before it gets too cold during the winter months.
Soil too cold will prevent proper germination.
Be Generous When Planting
Since fescue grass does not spread, you need to plant many seeds close together to guarantee there are no gaps on the soil surface.
For every 1,000′ square feet of the existing lawn, aim for between 7 and 9 pounds of seed.
A uniform application of the seeds is necessary for a great-looking lawn environment.
Even if you have a healthy lawn, a patchy appearance will make it seem like a deteriorated lawn.
Overseed Your Existing Lawn
After establishing your fescue in the spring, make sure to overseed it in the fall, particularly around October or November.
This should be done because the bunch-type growth habit will leave gaps more noticeable during the fall.
Reseeding those gaps before winter is a quick way to make sure the grass is full and without gaps during the late spring and summer.
Make Sure to Fertilize
Once the seeds have taken root, you must nurture the plant’s growth.
The best time to fertilize is early spring to early summer, followed by fall.
A starter-type fertilizer is best for new seedlings, but regular versions work once it is established.
Fertilizing during the summer or winter will mean the nutrients are directed at the ideal source. Instead of being directed toward top growth, off-season fertilization will direct the nutrients toward root development.
Follow instructions for the right fertilizer rates.
Additionally, the fertilizer must have the right nutritional composition.
Too much salt can harm the natural growth rate of the plant.
Annually, the recommended rate is 1 pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of the existing lawn.
Application of lime will add calcium to the soil as well.
Research herbicide and chemical control regulations in your area before using any fertilizer.
For easy application, we recommend this PetraTool fertilizer spray found here at the link on Amazon.
Water It Enough
All plants need adequate water to grow.
When it becomes hot during the summer months, water your fescue weekly to keep the soil moist and to encourage optimum growth.
Growth decreases if there is not enough water available.
Fescue requires an inch of water per week, preferably all at once versus sporadically throughout the week.
A healthy lawn needs the right moisture and environmental conditions for optimum growth.
Without it, you may end up with dead grass.
Mow at the Right Times
Part of a lawn maintenance schedule is mowing at the right height.
Depending on the mowing frequency, frequent mowing will either encourage or discourage proper growth.
Mowing at the right time is beneficial to deep root development.
However, if you mow too soon, it can cause detrimental effects on the shoot tissue.
The best time to mow your fescue is when it is between 3 and 3.5″ inches.
When people walk on your tall fescue lawn, it is not good for your lawn’s growth and leads to lawn deterioration.
However, fescue has a better tolerance for wear than other similar cool-season grasses.
The issue is recovering from damage.
Unfortunately, tall fescue grass is among the worst for recovering from wear damage.
Limit wear as much as possible until the fescue has fully come in and spread across the entire lawn.
Do not park your car on the lawn and discourage guests or pests from walking or running on the lawn until it becomes an established and existing lawn.
If you notice patches of damaged grass on your lawn, reseed the area to repair the damage.