Landscaping in America

Cool season grasses for homeowners living in northern America

Tall fescue is a coarse grass.

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Tall fescue

Tall Fescue

While some of the older tall fescue grass varieties are still available in some stores, but these should be avoided. These grass types are the coarse textured Kentucky 31 type.

Tall fescue grass has been used traditionally as a low maintenance grass in areas where a coarser texture is not objectionable. This grass species is coarser textured than the other recommended turfgrass species.

Tall fescue tolerates soils of low fertility, persists well under low maintenance and possesses good tolerance to insect and disease invasions. This species germinates and establishes quickly but slightly slower than perennial ryegrass.

When mature, tall fescue grass has excellent wear tolerance and, due to its deep-rooted nature, tolerates drought and will remain green throughout most midwest summers without supplemental irrigation. Juvenile tall fescue seedlings are not cold-tolerant and will be prone to winterkill. However, well-established seedlings and mature lawns will endure most cold winters.

Recently, a number of improved "turf-type" tall fescue cultivars have been commercialized. These improved tall fescues are finer textured than the old "Kentucky-31" cultivar. These improved cultivars are less coarse, grow more upright, and exhibit a darker green color. All tall fescues grow rapidly in the spring and require more frequent mowing than Kentucky bluegrass. The popularity of the improved turf-type tall fescues is increasing and they are now being used on many lawn sites, playgrounds, parks and low-maintenance athletic fields where the use of coarser textured grasses is not objectionable .

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.

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 may include Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescues and some type of perennial ryegrass.

For cool season and transitional turf grass 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.

Mowing Height: 2-1/2" 3"

Availability: seed or sod

Common Pests: brown patch and leaf spot