How to Cut Tall Fescue


Fescue (festuca) is a type of perennial grass. Tall fescue reaches a greater height than some other species of fescue. It is popular for being drought-tolerant and capable of growing in shaded soil. Fescue is grown throughout North America as both a lawn grass and a pasture grass. For best growing results, tall fescue should be cut to specific heights depending on your purposes for growing it.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Weed eater
  • Mower conditioner
  • Tractor
  • Start mowing the fescue in the spring. Run over the fescue with a standard push or riding lawn mower. This option is best for those growing fescue for lawn landscaping purposes. Trim to a height of 2 inches. When cutting fescue, no more than a third of the grass height should be removed at once. Thus, fescue should be cut to 2 inches once it reaches a height of 3 inches. For optimal results, tall grass species like fescue should be cut with a rotary mower.

  • Increase the mowing height to 5 inches during the summer. The greater height helps keep the lawn healthy during the hotter and drier months.

  • Decrease the height of the fescue back to 2 inches during the fall as the fescue grass stops growing and enters dormancy in preparation for the winter.

  • Use a weed eater to cut the fescue grass that is growing near fences, sidewalks and other areas that are hard to access with a lawn mower.

  • Cut the tall fescue in your pasture if you are growing it for hay. Connect a mower conditioner to the back of your tractor and drive it around the perimeter of your pasture, driving in concentric circles toward the middle. Cut the fescue when it begins developing seed heads, which typically occurs at the start of the summer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut the fescue during dry weather, whether you're trimming it for lawn or hay purposes.
  • Cutting fescue for hay as soon as it exhibits seed heads reduces its endophyte levels, a naturally-occurring bacteria in the grass that may cause digestive problems for animals.

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