Low Maintenance Tall Fescue Lawns?
Glenn Hardebeck, Turfgrass Research Agronomist, Agronomy
Department, Purdue University
Turf type tall fescue has become
widely used as a lawn grass across Indiana in the past ten years
or so, especially south of Indianapolis due to its heat and drought
tolerance. Tall fescue is generally sold as a low maintenance
turfgrass taughting its reduced fertilizer and water needs over
that of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. But, as life
usually goes, there is a drawback with turf type tall fescue.
Tall fescue (as well as perennial
ryegrass) is a bunch-type grass where as Kentucky bluegrass is
a spreading grass. While this is a good point when it comes to
keeping the grass out of your perennial beds, a tall fescue lawn
has difficulty recovering from damage such as thinning due to
heat stress or physical injury. In general if a tall fescue lawn
has many golf ball size holes or a moderate number of baseball
size holes, overseeding may be necessary to get the lawn to fill
back in well.
Overseeding is best accomplished
with a power overseeder or by using a power rake (with blades
not springs) to cut grooves into the soil followed by drop seeding.
This type of machinery can usually be found at local rental stores.
Good seed to soil contact is a must in order to give the seeds
a fighting chance toward establishment. Overseeding is most successful
when done in the early fall (around labor day). Spring overseeding is
less desirable but still reasonable with a thin tall fescue lawn
if done in early spring to give the seedlings some time to develop
before the summer heat.
Click image to enlarge
A thin Turf Type Tall Fescue lawn is not likely to
fill in on its own. This bunch-type grass requires overseeding when
golf ball to baseball size holes are present