To quickly review, fescue is a favorite of many people. Some like how fescue is green the great majority of the year as compared to warm season grasses that go brown and dormant. Other’s like fescue grasses due to the ability to find and use a seeded version. I will again be sharing researched based UGA information from a publication by Dr. Gil Landry, UGA Extension Turf Specialist.
Last week, we ended talking about starting a fescue lawn from scratch. When the seed is in the ground, you need to water daily of about 1/8 inch for about three weeks.
Then you will start cutting down on the frequency of watering of the seedlings, but increase the amount of water applied.
One common question I receive is on when to start mowing. When the seedlings get to about 2-2 ½ inches tall, you can start mowing to a height of 1 ½ to 2 inches. Do no mow when the grass is wet.
Previously, I talked about taking a soil test and having our office send it to the UGA Soil Test Lab in Athens. I know agents talk about soil testing a lot and maybe we should all have t-shirts that help us promote that theme too, but soil testing importance cannot be underestimated. A soil test report from the lab really can take out the guesswork in what you need to do to start a new lawn liming and fertilization wise and also will give you a fertilization plan for maintenance on established fescue lawns.
Every two to three years, you can re-sample the lawn to see if the pH has improved and to get more up-dated recommendations. I don’t know about you, but I live a busy life. Why do I want to be guessing on what I need for my lawn when a properly taken soil sample can put the answer on paper.
The rest of today’s article will center more on tall fescue lawn maintenance on established fescue.
When you think of drought tolerance, fescue is at the bottom of the chain. Fescue has been severely damaged the last several years due to the harsh weather. Irrigation is important for all types of lawns, but fescue will normally require more water than the other lawn grasses. Look for sign of moisture stress before watering. Again, no need to increase your water bill if you it is not needed.
Signs of moisture stress can be the grass turning color, wilting or even rolling of the leaves. If you walk across the lawn, you may be even able to turn around and see your foot steps in a moisture stressed lawn.
This year, we have seen good rain for the later portion of the summer so maybe moisture issues are not as much a problem right now. The extreme heat in June was tough on all the grasses. If you suspect moisture stress at some point, you can add enough supplemental water to wet the ground 4-8 inches deep in the soil. This normally means applying an inch of water per week.
I receive lots of calls on weed control in lawns. This normally lends to an identification of the weed first and then you have to find a control for that weed and one that will work for the grass you are growing.
According to Dr. Landry, the best defense against a weed invasion of your lawn is to keep the lawn dense and healthy in the first place. This should be reason enough to try to fertilize and lime correctly.
There will be times that herbicides may be needed to control unwanted weed populations. Over time, most fescue lawns will need reseeding.
Factors that can get you to this point are poor irrigation in time of need, poor lawn management in general, too much nitrogen fertilization, improper mowing heights, seeding at the wrong time of year, going beyond the recommended five pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet at establishment and insect or disease issues.
If you need to reseed, Landry says to estimate the percentage of tall fescue loss and multiply that by the establishment-seeding rate of five pounds per every 1,000 square feet. For example, if you think 50 percent of the fescue is dead in your lawn reseed with a rate of 2.5 pound of seed per 1,000 square feet. This would be the 50 percent or .50 times five (the normally establishment rate) and you would get the 2.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Remember that middle of September to middle of October is a good time to reseed. Note that when you reseed that seed to soil contact is critical. If you need more information on the exact process of reseeding you can email email@example.com or call Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685.