Fescue grass is a large group of grasses which contains hundreds of species. These grasses are native to Europe, and they have been widely exported all over the world for use in grazing pastures and ornamental landscaping. They are famous for being very durable and drought resistant, and they are popular in a range of climates and areas of the world.
Classically, fescue grass is sold in the form of seed which must be scattered, although it is also available in the form of grass plugs or sod. This grass tolerates lots of soil types, and it can handle shade as well as sun exposure. Like other grasses, fescue does best when it has ample water, but it can survive drought periods, and it likes to be fertilized in the late spring and fall with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer which will promote healthy growth.
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Most of the fescue grasses in use are tall grasses. These grasses like to be kept at a moderate length of around two inches (five centimeters). They tend to have a coarse growth, and they will eventually mat to choke out weeds. Tall fescue grass also puts down strong, deep roots, which makes it an excellent candidate for erosion control. Some special varieties of fescue include creeping fescue, with a lower growth habit, along with blue fescue, red fescue, and hard fescue grass.
Seed mixes for lawns often contain fescue, and fescue grass seed can also be purchased alone, without any other grasses. Gardeners who have difficulty starting grasses from seed might consider fescue sod, which has been grown and cultured in a nursery. Laying sod can be challenging, but it has the benefit of immediately covering an area, rather than taking several weeks to develop, as happens with seed.
These grasses prefer temperate climates. They go dormant in extremely hot or cold temperatures, making it important to plant fescue grass in the most mild parts of the spring and fall so that the grass has time to establish itself without becoming damaged. Dormancy can cause a fescue planting to look a bit unsightly, but it will eventually recover with support in the form of fertilizer and watering.
Fescue grass can be allowed to grow without mowing, for people who like a more wild look or who are using the grass for pasturing. If a fescue lawn is left unmowed, a strip should be kept trimmed around structures, or material like gravel should be laid down to create a buffer so that long grass will not increase the risk of fire or harbor moisture which could cause structural damage. Long lawns will also need to be cut down as the grass dies off so that the new growth has room.