K-31 fescue is a tall fescue grass, used mostly as a lawn and turf grass with good shade tolerance. Known formally as Kentucky 31 Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), K-31 is well suited to planting in the transition zone, that area of the middle United States from Pennsylvania to California where summer heat and humidity limit cool season grasses and winters are too cold for warm grasses.
According to a Texas Cooperative Extension service article on tall fescue, there are more than 100 species of this European native grass. K-31 fescue is one of the two oldest varieties of fescue tall grasses currently used in the United States. K-31 was found on a Kentucky farm in 1931, where it had been growing for more than half a century. Starting in the 1970s, additional specialized fescue varieties have been introduced, causing K-31 to lose some ground as a dominant fescue variety.
The Midwestern States Fescue Association touts K-31 fescue as low maintenance, durable and "the grass you just grow and mow." While fescue is adaptable to a lot of different climates and soils, Aggie Horticulture states it does best on drained clay. It can remain green throughout the year with irrigation and has good shade tolerance.
K-31 fescue is a good turf grass because its deep root system takes more heat than other tall fescue varieties. When used for a lawn, it bears wear and traffic fairly well, although bermudagrass is a better choice for turf and sports fields. Establishing a lawn with K-31 is usually done by broadcasting seed, making a K-31 lawn very economical compared to laying sod squares or planting plugs.
When left unmowed, K-31 can grow 3 to 4 feet high. Recommended mowing height is between 2 and 3 inches, with 1.5 inches the minimum height in the summer.
Seeds are best sown in the fall. Planting can also be done in the spring, but early high temperatures could cause a loss of young plants. K-31 fescue does best in a location with four to eight hours of daily sun. Rototill the planting area 3 to 4 inches deep, then firm the ground with a roller. Broadcast seed at 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Seeds should be raked in or covered with a light layer of soil or mulch. The seedbed should be kept moist for the first 14 to 21 days, then reduced. One month after planting, spread a complete fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Cut the first growth to 2 inches after the grass has reached a height of 3 inches.
K-31's use as a pasture grass is no longer recommended. As explained by the seed company Seedland, a naturally occuring fungus in K-31 helps protect the grass from diseases and insects. Unfortunately, this same fungus has been linked to health problems with horses and cattle.
- Photo Credit wet grass image by Paula Gent from Fotolia.com
Kentucky Bluegrass Vs. Fescue
Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and fescues (Festuca spp.) are cool season grasses, meaning they grow best in temperatures between 65 and 75...
How Long Does it Take for Fescue Seed to Germinate?
Approximately 100 species of fescue grasses exist, according to the Texas A&M University's website. A cool-season perennial grass, it produces a deep...
Information on Kentucky 31 Grass Seed
Kentucky 31 is a variety of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) found in pastures and meadows. Farmers' livestock graze on this perennial grass,...
When to Plant K-31 Fescue
K-31 fescue is the most common variety of tall fescue available for lawns. K-31 is durable and drought tolerant, a cool-season grass...
How to Plant Kentucky 31 Fescue
High-traffic, all-purpose and low-maintenance, "Kentucky 31" tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea "Kentucky 31") is versatile enough for everything from backyards to ball fields...
Information About Fescue Grass
Introduced to the United States in the early 1800s, fescue grass is now found throughout much of the country and into parts...
Differences Between Kentucky 31 & Bluegrass
Thick, manicured carpets of fine bladed grass appeal to some, and others prefer durable, low-maintenance grass for high-traffic areas. Kentucky 31 tall...
Scotts Spreader Settings for Grass Seed
Founded in 1868, Scotts Miracle-Gro is a leading manufacturer and distributor of lawn-care products, fertilizers and grass seed. The company also markets...
Settings for Spreading Grass Seed With a Lawn Spreader
When establishing a new lawn, seeding over an existing lawn or repairing bare spots, using the right combination of grass seed, spreader...
What to Do About a Clumping Fescue?
Fescue is a cool-season grass that can be seeded very easily. The grass includes subspecies of taller bunching grasses called tall fescue...