Preparing for Fall-Tall Fescue Management
As the days keep creeping toward September landscapers and homeowners should be preparing themselves for cool-season grass management. Timing and preparation are half the battle when it comes to building a beautiful stand of turf. Tall Fescue is a popular choice of cool-season grass here in the Piedmont with qualities such as heat, drought, and disease resistance. Tall Fescue is an ideal choice for a green lawn year-round, however, excessive summer stress can create patches and thin spots within a yard.
Establishing New Tall Fescue Lawns
- Obtain a Soil Test (Contact our office to pick up boxes and forms) (704-922-0301).
- Incorporate soil reports recommended amount of lime and fertilizer into top 6-8 inches of soil (using a tiller).
- Rake until grade is level and smooth (small soil particles are desirable).
- Choose your seed, check your bag for what varsities it includes (a blend of varieties is recommended). Find a brand of seed with at least 50% of the contents consists of NC State University’s high-performing cultivars.
- Seed pure Tall Fescue seed at 6 lb/1000 sq ft. For Kentucky Bluegrass/ Tall Fescue blends seed 5 lbs of Tall Fescue and 1 lb of Kentucky Bluegrass/1000 sq ft. Use a rotary spreader to distribute seed uniformly.
- Cover the seed by hand raking or dragging with a mat or span of chain-link fence, then roll the soil to ensure seed to soil contact. To combat erosion and hold in moisture utilize a weed-free grain straw to cover soil ( 1-2 bales per 1000 sq ft.).
- Lightly water in your seeded lawn and continue a light watering two or three times a day for 7 to 21 days. As the seedlings grow and root, water less often but for longer periods.
Established Tall Fescue Lawns
- Soil should be tested every two to three years (contact 704-922-0301 for box and form pick up).
- Fertilize based on soil test recommendations. If you opt not to test, apply a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (that is, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8). Apply in mid-September at 1 lb Nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Make a repeat application in November.
- Tall Fescue lawns should receive 1 to 11⁄4 inches of water a week. Supplement water if rainfall is not adequate. Ideal times for irrigation are between 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Fall is the ideal time to aerate a Tall Fescue Lawn on clay soil. Remove and break up plugs and return the soil to the lawn.
- Overseed thin or bare areas in early September following seeding instruction above for establishing new lawns.
- Mow Tall Fescue lawns to 21⁄2 to 3 inches in height.
N.C. Cooperative Extension of Gaston County is happy to help answer any turf questions you may have.
Call-704-922-2119 or email Payton.Flowers@gastongov.com.