Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The use of Fescue grass seed for lawns rose dramatically in America in the last 20 years. The family of Fescues includes Tall Fescue, Creeping Red Fescue, Chewing Fescue, Hard Fescue and Sheep Fescue. Let’s explore these families of grass seed to see which might work best for your lawn situation.
The family of Fine Fescues includes Creeping, Chewing, Hard and Sheep Fescues. They are referred to as “fine” because of their very thin, wire-like blade width. The same basic characteristics apply to all fine fescues. They are adaptable from Canada to the transition zone, essentially the upper two-thirds of the United States. All of the fine Fescues can be seeded by themselves, but frequently are included with Perennial Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass in home lawns like in Jonathan Green Sun & Shade Mixture.
One of the most favorable characteristics of fine Fescue is shade tolerance. You will usually find one or more of them included in Shady grass seed mixtures, sometimes making up more than 50% of the mixture like in Jonathan Green Dense Shade Mixture. Over time, if you plant a grass seed mixture, which includes too much Kentucky Bluegrass, along with some fine Fescues in the shade, you will end up with a fine Fescue stand of grass and little bluegrass. They also grow in areas of full sun, so they are frequently found in sunny grass seed mixtures too like in Jonathan Green Full Sun Mixture. This wide adaptability and ability to mix well with other grass types makes it easier for you to grow a lawn.
Improved varieties of fine Fescues are relatively hardy, drought and disease resistant and can adapt to a wide variety of soil types. When fine Fescues are part of the Jonathan Green grass seed you plant, the chances of long-term survival increase. Fine Fescues can become dormant and stop growing if temperatures rise above 90 degrees or below 50 degrees. The turf starts to go off-color, exhibiting a slightly yellow appearance. Irrigation in hot, dry summer months can help to prevent this dormancy. There is not much you can do to keep fine Fescues green once Mother Nature drops the air temperature in winter.
Let’s shift gears to Tall Fescues. Tall Fescues are set apart from the fine Fescues because Tall Fescues have a wider blade width and also have a very aggressive root system which can grow up to four feet into the ground in the right soil conditions. This ability to develop a deep root system helps Tall Fescues to be extremely drought and heat tolerant as evident in Jonathan Green Drought Tough Mixture.
In the last 25 years there have been tremendous improvements in the quality of turf-type Tall Fescues available on the market. The blade width of improved, turf-type Tall Fescues blends in well with Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. Selective breeding has provided a narrower blade and a more upright, compact growth habit than the original pasture-type Tall Fescues like Kentucky 31 or Fawn and Alta, which are quite open and perform poorly in home lawns. If you are seeding in pastures, be sure to use a forage-type Tall Fescue that is endophyte-free like Jonathan Green’s Pasture Mixture. Otherwise, problems can be caused with livestock.
Since Tall Fescue is so hardy and tolerant of heavy traffic, it is frequently included in athletic field and play-type homeowner grass seed mixtures like the Jonathan Green Heavy Traffic Mixture. Tall Fescues perform well in the transition zone and have become part of many sod growers fields with these vast improvements. Tall Fescue sod gives much better performance in shade than sod composed of only Kentucky Bluegrasses.
Home lawns can play an important part in the new ‘green’ movement. Since Fescues have so many positive attributes including low maintenance, less fertilizer, wide soil adaptability and fewer requirements for water, they provide a great answer for an eco-friendly lawn. Lawns purify the air by absorbing pollutants and remove carbon dioxide from the air while returning oxygen in return. Lawns also reduce glare, noise, and water run-off while providing “air conditioning”, cooling off the surrounding environment. Fescues are a good choice for the future of your lawn.Back