Landscaping in America

Transitional grasses for homeowners living across a narrow middle zone of America

Lawn care information, tips, and techniques to make your lawn the best possible lawn.

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Turf-type Tall Fescue

The confusion between tall fescue and fine fescue was increased by the introduction of the turf-type tall fescues because they are also promoted as "fine-leafed" like the fine fescues. The tall fescues are finer leafed than K-31 but not as fine leafed as the fine fescues.

Turf-type tall fescue are becoming a popular turfgrass for homes and industrial sites. Turf-types are more coarse than bluegrass, though 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 than many other lawn grasses such as bluegrass or perennial ryegrass because roots penetrate deeper into the soil.

Tall fescues are also 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 eight to nine 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.


Identifying tips

A coarse-textured medium to dark-green grass. Leaves are rolled in the bud. It has short, rounded auricles, a short membranous ligule, and an extensive root system. Because tall fescue has a bunch-type growth habit rather than a creeping-type, open areas may develop and need to be reseeded.


September and October are generally the best time to plant tall fescue. Earlier seeding tends to undergo excessive heat stress and seedling diseases, and later planting may not be fully established prior to winter. Depending on the area, seeding in December and early spring is generally not recommended because the plant does not have time to develop the deep root system needed to survive the hot summer.