You may have heard mention of tall fescue lawns with regards to lawn resiliency. That’s because it is highly-adaptable to most climates because of its cold, heat, shade, and drought tolerance. For this reason, tall fescue makes a great option if you are looking to increase your lawn’s durability and resilience. Some of its characteristics include:
Tall fescue is not native to North America. Originally native to Europe, it was brought to the U.S. in early 19th century. Lawns, as we know them today, weren’t always in fashion. That said, tall fescue was still primarily used for pastures and other agricultural applications until about the 1950s. It was at that time that a specific type of tall fescue, known as Kentucky 31 (also K-31 or KY-31) start seeing use for turf purposes rather than just for pastures.
Since that time, quite a few more types of tall fescue have been developed. These lawn-specific varieties are often referred to as Contemporary tall fescues and include variations, such as: slimmer blades; better cold-, heat-, and drought-tolerance; and, deeper shades of green. All of this together leads to a forgiving lawn that is fairly low-maintenance when compared to other types of turf.
As a cool-season grass, tall fescue thrives in spring and fall. For this reason, it’s a fairly popular in northern locations, such as Michigan. Further, because Michigan is a full-on four season state, tall fescue’s ability to tolerate heat and cold better than many other grasses makes it an ideal choice as a primary grass or as part of a blend.
Tall fescue germinates rapidly when compared to other popular grasses like Kentucky bluegrass. This lends to its varying tolerances. Further, reaching two-to-three feet underground, its root system is strong and more resilient to pests, such as grubs.
With regards to shade tolerance, no grass is more shade-tolerant than tall fescue, except for fine fescue.
Many grasses spread via above- and below-ground stems. These stems are called stolons and rhizomes, respectively. Tall fescue is different in that it is what is called a “bunch-forming” grass. Tall fescue produces short rhizomes; however, there is a very limited capacity for spreading. Rather, tall fescue grows in bunches and spreads via vertical shoots. These shoots, known as “tillers,” generate from the base of the plant instead of the horizontal stems, as you find with many other grasses. Because of this, tall fescue is much easier to keep out of flower beds and other landscaping. On the other hand, it reduces the ability to self repair in cases of damage.
As they are cool season grasses, you’ll want to plant tall fescue in the cooler seasons, such as spring or fall. In addition, if you will be undertaking any significant landscaping tasks that will disrupt a tall fescue lawn, you’ll also want schedule those for spring and fall, as well, to help ensure the grass grows back to its full potential. Another benefit of tall fescue being a bunch-forming grass is that you almost never need to dethatch it. For the same reason, however, tall fescue should be overseeded from time to time to ensure proper density and to avoid the appearance of “clumps.”
Because tall fescue has deep roots, it is able to absorb moisture and nutrients in the soil better than many other grasses. For this reason, you’ll need to water a tall fescue lawn a little differently. You don’t need to water as frequently, but you do need to water more deeply. Soaking the ground will set up the tall fescue’s roots to really do their job. Also, with regards to maintenance, you should set the deck of your mower to two-to-three inches for mowing tall fescue.
Since tall fescue is highly adaptive to a variety of different soil types, many home-owners and businesses are looking to this hardy, resilient grass as a staple of their lawns.
If you are looking for a solution to problem lawns, consider E.P.M.’s commercial lawn services. Call us today at (517) 990-0110 or contact us online.