There are roughly 100 species of fescue grass. Although tall fescue and fine fescue are members of the same grass family, there are significant differences in their care and maintenance requirements.
Fescue is divided into broad-leaved and fine-leaved classes. Tall fescue is a broad-leaved fescue with wide, flat blades typical of lawn grasses. Fine fescue is the collective term for all fine-leaved fescue grasses. Fine fescue has thinner blades than tall fescue, with some fine fescues having needle-type blades. The most commonly cultivated fine fescues are hard, sheep, creeping red and Chewing's fescue.
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While tall fescue grows throughout most of the United States, the most common fine fescues grow only in specific areas. Most fine fescues grow only in the cooler areas of the United States.
Tall fescue and fine fescue have different growing patterns and care requirements. While fine fescue tolerates everything between being cut short to not being cut at all, tall fescue requires a regular cutting regimen to keep it at 2 inches tall. Fine fescue is drought-tolerant, while tall fescue benefits from regular watering. Tall fescue needs routine fertilizing, while short fescue only needs fertilizer if it is growing in very poor soil.
- Cornell University: Fine Fescue
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: No-Mow Fineleaf Fescue Grasses for California Urban Landscapes
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: Tall Fescue
- Texas Cooperative Extension: Tall Fescue
- USDA Plants Database: Tall Fescue
- USDA Plants Database: Hard Fescue