Fescue is a cool-season grass that thrives in sun or light shade. It requires frequent watering to keep it from turning brown, especially in summer. If kept thoroughly watered, however, fescue stays green all year. Fescue is a coarser, broader-bladed and less traffic-resistant grass than Bermuda or Kentucky bluegrass. It requires regular watering and annual overseeding to minimize traffic damage.
Plant fescue seed in spring from mid-February to mid-April or even May as you go farther south. In the autumn, you can seed fescue from September, after the summer heat dies away, until November and the first frosts. Fescue lawns will likely need annual overseeding during these times, even if you start the lawn from sod.
You can lay fescue sod earlier in the season, from January to late May almost anywhere in the country. Most sod providers don't stock fescue during the summer months, but may make limited supplies available in the autumn from September to early December. Some landscapers prefer to lay fescue sod in the autumn, claiming the sod needs the winter to establish a strong root system before the summer heat sets in.
Allow fescue to reach a maintained height of 3 to 3-1/2 inches during the summer to prevent browning. Never cut more than a third of the height when mowing to prevent damaging the lawn. Fertilize with a 10-10-10 or 4-4-4 fertilizer three times a year, in September, November and February. No matter what, never fertilize after April until November. A pre-emergent weed control can be added in October and late February.
Water a few times the first week after laying fescue in cooler months. If it's hot, get water on your lawn within hours and water it daily for the first two weeks to minimize stress and browning. New sod needs an average of one inch of water per day for the first ten days, then half an inch until established. Then water normally.
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