Tall fescue has impressive heat tolerance compared to other cool-season turfs. It also develops well under shade and possesses an extensive root system, making it easy to water and care for.
If you’re contemplating when to plant tall fescue grass seed, March to May and August through September, generally make for the best months, whether for seeding or overseeding your lawn.
We’ll discuss the planting schedule in detail below, so read on.
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Best Time to Plant Tall Fescue Grass Seed
The best tall fescue growing season is fall, considering this grass is a cool-season plant.
- Fall brings with it moderately cool temperatures and light rains that boost germination, plus the soil is not as soggy as it tends to be in spring.
- Couple these benefits with the dormancy of weeds and the absence of melting snow and ice, and grass seeds have the ideal conditions for growing.
- With that in mind, the best time to seed or overseed tall fescue during this season is 45 days before the first frost. This schedule provides ample time for the grass to germinate and spread its roots before winter.
In comparison, spring planting means exposing tall fescue grass to the excess heat of the summer and active weeds. The melting ice and snow may also contribute to fungal diseases, as these organisms grow well in wet, humid conditions.
For this reason, it is essential to plant tall fescue grass after the final frost if you pick spring as your planting season.
Wait until soil temperatures reach 60℉ before sowing seeds, and spray the soil with a herbicide like Round-Up two weeks before establishing a new lawn.
In case you’re overseeding and patching up bare spots, use a sod cutter instead of a herbicide, and make sure to trim the grass blades down to one inch before planting.
How Late Can I Seed Tall Fescue?
You can look up the first frost in your area and count backward 45 days to get the answer. For quick reference, I’ve done just that for hardiness zones 3 to 8 where tall fescue grows best.
Note that as an alternative, you can try dormant seeding if you’re feeling adventurous.
- In this case, put grass seeds into the soil just before the ground freezes, when the land is still workable.
- Snow is necessary to protect tall fescue seeds throughout winter, and a thin, preferably bare lawn when planting is also essential, as it will be easy to press the seeds down.
|Hardiness zone||Average first frost||Latest date for seeding fescue in fall|
|Zone 3||September 15||August 1|
|Zone 4||October 7||August 23|
|Zone 5||October 21||September 6|
|Zone 6||October 31||September 16|
|Zone 7||November 15||October 1|
|Zone 8||November 28||October 14|
Tips for Successful Tall Fescue Grass Seed Sowing
1. Soil preparation
Remove weeds from the planting area, then rake the soil down to a depth of six inches until it’s level.
At the same time, do a soil test for pH and fertilizer recommendations, then incorporate the necessary amendments into the lawn prior to planting.
Ideally, tall fescue grass should be in an area with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5, at least three to four hours of direct sunlight, and a 2 to 6 percent grade for optimal drainage.
You may use a fertilizer ratio of 3-1-2, but as stated, it’s better to have the soil tested and use the test results.
2. Seeding and watering
- Sow tall fescue grass seeds according to your purpose: 7 to 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet for new lawns and 4 to 6 pounds per the same area if overseeding.
- Spread seeds two times in opposite directions: one time while walking from north to south and another time from east to west.
You can use your hands instead of a spreader, but regardless of the tool used, remember to rake the seeds into the soil at a depth of ⅛ inch.
- Germination time for tall fescue is 7 to 21 days, and it’s essential to give fescue seedlings and seeds an inch of water per week to ensure quick growth.
We hope this article helped you decide when to plant tall fescue grass seed.
To summarize, tall fescue grows best in the fall and within northern areas, but it’s drought-tolerant enough to thrive in up to hardiness zone 8. Following the tips here should give your fescue seeds the best conditions to grow and establish themselves.
Thanks for reading, and send us your questions if you have any.
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