In early August, we visited about The Reasons For A Fescue Lawn.
Last week, in our September Lawn & Landscape Tips we discussed Fescue Overseeding.
Why so much focus on establishing fescue?
if you have areas of your lawn where the bermuda has thinned because of shade…
Or, you already have fescue…
Or, you want to have a green lawn longer into the fall and earlier in the winter…
It is very important that you take advantage of the next few weeks and overseed with fescue! Today through October is the absolute best window to establish fescue.
If you wait until spring to seed fescue, you are doing it at the second-best time and there is an enormous chasm between the establishment of seeding now (the best time) and seeding in the spring (the second-best time).
Don’t settle for second best results. Follow these four steps to have a great fescue lawn:
1. Evaluate Your Turf. Bermuda needs at least 8 hours of direct sunlight for best performance. Less than 8 hours and it starts to thin. Bermuda greens up very slow in the spring with the less direct sunlight it receives. As your trees mature, and your neighbor’s trees, your turf is getting less and less direct light.
Fescue will perform much better in dappled or partial shade than bermuda.
Resist the belief that if you trim the limbs up higher and the bermuda will do better. It won’t — thick bermuda requires direct sunlight.
Also, don’t think of fescue as only a shade grass. Fescue will grow in full sun. Yes, in July and August, in full sun it will show some stress (fescue’s off season). But, you will have a green lawn long after bermuda has gone dormant and you will have a green lawn earlier in the spring. You can’t beat the appearance of fescue from March through June and again September through December.
2. Good Seed Source. When selecting the type of grass, a blend is best. Blends are a combination of two or more varieties within the same species, such as two or more fescues in one mix. Blends are a combination of the best species, tested over time, for the best shade tolerance and disease resistance. The number one problem with fescue is brown patch disease. The best blends use fescue varieties that show strong resistance to brown patch. Also, some blends will contain bluegrass and, or rye for even more vibrant spring color.
Oklahoma State University conducts annual research on cool season turf. It is always best to purchase a blend that contains varieties that have performed well in their trials.
Our primary seed this fall is Go Thunder Blend. It is a mixture of Supersonic Tall Fescue, Titanium 2LS Tall Fescue, Firecracker SLS Tall Fescue, 4th Millennium SRP Tall Fescue, Fastball RGL Perennial Ryegrass, and Legend Kentucky Bluegrass.
3. Good Seed to Soil Contact is Critical. Start with cutting the existing turf short to remove excess grass, then loosen the soil to create good seed to soil contact.
Aeration is the best method to gain good seed to soil contact. Aerating also gives you the extra benefit of improving the soil structure, increasing water absorption, and developing deeper roots.
If overseeding an existing fescue area with a good strand of grass, spread seed at a rate of 5-8 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If establishing a new fescue lawn, spread seed at a rate of 10-12 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
4. Keep the Area Tacky Moist Until Seed Germinates. The first three steps are critical for success. But, you can get the first three correct and have complete failure if the seeded area is not kept moist until new grass is visible in the entire area.
For the best success, set your irrigation to run 3 short cycles per day. Set spray type zones to run 5 minutes each time. Set rotor type zones to run 10 minutes each time. If possible, set the system to run before dawn (4:00 AM), late morning (10:00 AM), and mid-afternoon (4:00 PM).
You don’t have to have an irrigation system to establish fescue. You only need to be diligent at watering every morning and every evening.
The most damaging thing you can do to germinating seed is to allow the seed to dry out between watering.
Typically, you will see some grass coming up within 10 days and a good stand in 14. Check the seeded area every few days to see how the seed is progressing. Adjust water if you see areas getting too dry. If you do not have a good start within 14 days, apply more seed.
At 14 days, if you have a good stand of seed, resume normal mowing and watering habits.
Don’t let the best time to seed fescue slip past you this fall!
If you need assistance in establishing a fescue lawn, have questions about fescue, or would like to get on our overseeding schedule, give us call – (405) 367-3873.
Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape