Caring For Cool-Season Fescue Lawns This Fall
Fescue grass is among the three most popular grass varieties in the metro Atlanta area. As the only cool-season species in that group, it requires a different care regimen and schedule than its warm-season counterparts. In this post, we’ll discuss the steps that both you and your lawn care company can take to keep your cool-season grass healthy during its favorite season.
Aeration and Overseeding
Unlike the warm-season grasses that thrive in our region, Fescue does not self-spread. It stubbornly continues to grow in compacted soil, in shady areas, under dry conditions that would defeat other plants, but if it does start thinning, the resulting bare spots require outside intervention. The best way to fill in those spots is overseeding, a process in which seed is distributed over existing grass. Overseeding also makes the grass in healthier areas of your lawn grow in thicker and lusher.
To get the best results from overseeding, your lawn should be aerated beforehand. Those bare spots formed where the ground is dry and compacted. Aeration removes many small “plugs” of soil, creating tiny vertical “tunnels” that allow air and water to reach grass roots.
Aeration and overseeding are normally done at the same time in early fall to allow the new growth from overseeding to get the maximum benefit from aeration during Fescue’s period of peak growth.
Other Important Steps
Fertilizing: The treatment applied by Arbor-Nomics in early fall (the fifth in a sequence of seven) includes a starter fertilizer, high in nitrogen, to power up the new seed. The fertilizer administered in the sixth treatment, in late fall, encourages growth in both new and established grass.
Watering: Our advice for newly seeded areas is pretty much the opposite of our regular recommendation. Normally, we advise watering deeply once or twice per week to make sure your lawn gets all of its weekly inch. After overseeding, however, the top quarter-inch of soil becomes the priority. It should be kept consistently moist for a full three weeks or until the new growth reaches mowing height. This may require less water than you’re used to, applied more frequently, possibly once per day and possibly twice.
Mowing: Under ordinary circumstances, Fescue lawns should be mowed every five to six days, removing no more than one-third of grass blades at a time and leaving them between three and three-and-a-half inches tall. However, it’s best to take a break just after aeration, to allow seedlings a little more time to get established. Resume a regular schedule when the new growth reaches mowing height.
Weed Control: After aeration and overseeding, herbicides should not be applied until after the new year, because they can harm young grass blades. Once your new grass gets established, its density will provide a strong first line of defense against weeds.
If you have questions about Fescue lawns or any other aspect of fall lawn care, an experienced lawn service company like Arbor-Nomics can answer them. In addition to weed control, we provide lawn fertilization, outdoor pest control, and much, much more. Our Certified Landscape Specialists are ready to help with all of your lawn service needs.