Does Tall Fescue Grass Spread? How to Grow It Faster

Tall fescue grass is a cool season turf that thrives in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler. During hot and dryer summer months, fescue grass will go dormant if not properly watered. Under moderate conditions, this grass can remain green year-round. However there is one major question commonly asked by gardeners;

Does tall fescue grass spread?

Unlike most grasses that spreads by underground rhizomes, and above-ground stolons, tall fescue is a bunch-forming cool season grass that produce tillers – leaf blades growing from the shoot of the base plant. This limits its capacity to spread and fill bare or dead spots within a lawn.

Tall fescue has deep widely set roots that make it to have great drought and heat tolerance. It adapts well in most hardy conditions including partially shady areas. Tall Fescue is easy to maintain as low fertilizing and fewer mowing is needed. These are reasons why many gardeners love this turf despite its inability to spread.

Overseeding or mixing tall fescue grass with other turfs can help in attaining a uniform dense lawn. The new grass or different variety will fill in any bare spots that makes tall fescue lawns to appear scattered.  

What does tall fescue grass look like?

Tall fescue has wide blades that are dark green in color. Although shiny looking on the top surfaces, the blades are very coarse to the touch. In mixed-grass lawn, the grass may appear isolated rather than forming a uniform dense lawn. Mature turf-type tall feature can attain 4 to 12 inches in height.

This perennial grass loves full sun to partial shade. It tolerates most soil conditions including clay. Like Bermuda grass, tall fescue is also good for high traffic lawns and play areas. A combination of the two can guarantee a green lush lawn throughout the year.

How to Grow Tall Fescue Grass Faster

Tall fescue is known to offer a high-performance, low-maintenance lawn. This is a dream that can be achieved if you get quality seed, prepare your soil adequately and plant the grass at the right time. Although adaptive to many soil types, a well-draining soil will provide quick results.

1. Conduct soil testing

Soil testing before seeding is an important step before growing any type of grass. It reveals which important nutrients or elements are missing so that they can be added before the grass is planted. Take a sample of your lawn soil to a nearby university extension or soil laboratory for testing.

A detailed recommendation from the extension office will guide you on what fertilizer to use or amendment to do. Tall fescue withstands a wide pH range but it does best when soil pH stays between 5.5 and 7.5. If your soil pH is out of range, several amendments like lime or element sulfur may be recommended to restore the pH balance and nutrients availability.

2. Site and soil preparation

Adequate site preparation is usually an important step when planting a new lawn or overseeding. It mainly focus on killing weeds or unwanted grass and leveling the land to avoid problems of flooding, erosion or standing water in your yard. A professional landscape service may be helpful at this stage.

A chemical herbicides may be used to completely kill weeds or unwanted grasses but you have to use as directed by the manufacturers. You may have to wait for some time after spraying the weeds for them to die completely or for the residual effect of the herbicide in the soil to end.

Finally, you will have to rake the areas to remove all the debris and make the soil flat before spreading the seed. This will also be the best stage to add some fertilizer in your soil for faster growth of your grass.

3. Plant the seed

As a cool-season grass, cool weather supports its optimal growth. Therefore plant your tall fescues grass during late summer to early fall. Ideally, seed when soil temperatures near 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Take advantage of rains during this period to minimize on watering needs.

Use a seed spreader for uniform application of the seed. Roll the area with a lawn roller to ensure good soil-to-seed contact. With right soil moisture and temperature, tall fescue grass will take between 7 and 21 days to germinate.

If there are no rains, thorough watering is always important for the germination of grass seed. Watering twice a day will be greater but do not soak or flood your lawn. You do not need to water deeply is you are overseeding your existing lawn but simply keep soil moist through light watering.

4. Care and maintenance

Once your grass has germinated, you can now minimize on watering. Water deep and less often until the grass reaches mowing stage. At the height of 4 to 5 inches, mow your lawn but remember that one third rule also applies – never mow more than one third of the grass blade.

You will also want to protect your tall fescue grass from heavy foot traffic until the lawn is fully established. Keep children, pets and anyone else away from the grass. This should be until you mow your lawn for at least three times. At this time, also avoid weed and pest control products on the new grass.

Final Thought

Tall fescue grass is a great option if you live in transition zone or northern part of the United States. This cool season grass thrives in cold conditions and will remain green even in winter. This drought and heat tolerant turf does not require regular mowing and fertilization and you can use it to have the most resilient lawn in your home, play areas and golf courses.


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