cooler temperatures and moderate rains create a time
frame for getting cool-season fescue lawns back in
shape. Here are some tips from Virginia Master Gardeners
on the best ways to get your lawn green and growing
selection. When selecting fescue grass seed for lawn
renovation or over-seeding a mature lawn, read the label
that gives the content of the bag. Look for a product
that contains several different types of fescue to avoid
a monoculture. This will help insure that a problem that
may exist with a single cultivar wonít adversely
impact the whole bag. Also, make sure seed makes good
contact with soil or it wonít germinate.
right aerator. A core aerator removes small cores of
soil (when finished, leave those cores on the ground
because rain will "melt" them back into the
soil). Nail-like spikes do not properly open up the soilís
frequency. Mow your lawn frequently enough so that you
never remove more than one-third of the blade at one
time. Like most plants, grass makes its own food by a
process called photosynthesis. This occurs in the blades
of grass, so removing more than one-third of this
"food factory" at one time stresses grass.
Also, allow newly sprouted grass shoots to develop a
solid root base before mowing ó two to three weeks.
If you have or are in the market for a mulching
lawnmower, leave clippings on the lawn to help boost
nitrogen levels in the soil; the clippings decompose
quickly enough to avoid any thatch buildup.
a smaller lawn. Large rectangles of pure turfgrass can
be boring. Consider boosting your landscapeís eye
appeal with ornamental gardens of shrubs, trees,
perennials, hardscape and such. Itís also a good time
to introduce some native, wildlife-friendly plants into
directions and labels. This is sound advice when using
any product, but it is especially important when using
chemical products for weed control. These products will
have precautionary instructions that purchasers are
expected to follow for the well-being of both the
landscape and the user.
make sure you properly identify a weed so you use the
correct weed control product.
patient. A nice fescue lawn can take up to a couple of
years to establish itself.
lawn-care mistakes for your cool-weather lawn.
having a current soil test. Virginia Cooperative
Extension recommends testing your soil at least once
every three years. Trying to establish or maintain a
lawn without knowing your soilís fertility and pH
requirements can potentially be a waste of money and
even harmful to your lawn.
fertilizer to fescue turf in the spring. Growing
conditions for fescue are ideal in the fall. If the
recommended three fall fertilizations are followed,
there is no need for spring applications.
watering. Ideally, lawns should get a one-inch deep
watering weekly. However, if you are over-seeding,
frequent light watering until the new seed has rooted
will prevent the new seed from washing away or drowning.
mowing height. Fescue should be maintained at a height
of at least two inches. It is especially important to
follow this in the warmer months. The tall grass shades
the surface of the ground, keeping the roots cooler and
retaining moisture. The tallness also inhibits weed
growth, because most weeds are sun lovers.
chemical weed control over the tops of leaves. This is
usually a waste of time and money. One solution to this
is to mulch mow the leaves beforehand, thereby getting
the benefit of both the leaves and the chemical. Also,
avoid applying any chemicals to a newly established or
overseeded lawn until after at least two mowings.
to grow grass where grass doesnít want to grow. Fescue
is considered to be shade tolerant, but no type of turf
grass thrives in full shade. Trying to make grass grow
in full shade is an exercise in futility, particularly
when it must compete with trees for water. Consider
extending mulched areas under trees and incorporating
shade tolerant plants. Or it could be a good opportunity
to cultivate a lovely green carpet of moss.