Dan West Garden Center
Lawn Care Program for Fescue (Shady) Lawns
Sep 1 – This is the best time of year to establish a fescue or shady
area lawn. Proper soil preparation is essential for a good fescue
lawn. Till to a depth of 3 – 4 inches and incorporate organic matter
into the soil such as leaves, grass clippings, compost or finely ground
bark with a non-burning starter fertilizer. We also recommend using
Natural Guard Soil Activator when seeding. This supplies important humates
and greatly enhances your turf quality. Sow a turf type fescue seed
at 10 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. (Re-seed rate is 5 lbs. per 1000 sq.
ft.) We recommend 5 Star Fescue or 5 Star Extreme for heavily shaded
areas. Each year, 5 of the top rated fescues are blended
together for disease resistance and their shade, drought and traffic
tolerance. Fescue germinates in 7 – 10 days and it is imperative that
the soil and seed not dry during that time. Keep it
muddy. Check your pH. Fescue prefers a pH of 6.5 so apply
lime if needed. A 40 lb. bag of pelletized lime should be applied per
1000 sq. ft. to raise the pH ½ point. Re-check your pH 30 days after
applying to see if additional lime is needed.
Oct 15 – Apply a slow release lawn fertilizer to new and/or existing
fescue. We recommend Fertilome Classic Slow Release. Keep the
leaves off fescue by mulching with the mower, bagging or raking.
Mar 1 – Overseed new fescue lawns, or thin established lawns, at 5 lbs.
per 1000 sq. ft.
If reseeding is not needed, then apply a pre-emerge herbicide such as
DIMENSION® to prevent summer germinating wild grasses and weeds.
Apply Fertilome Classic Slow Release fertilizer.
Mar 15 – Spot treat broadleaf weeds with a broadleaf herbicide
containing CARFENTRAZONE® and/or TRIMEC®. Fescue is very tolerant of
these herbicides but caution must be used in the root zone of trees.
Do not apply these products to newly seeded areas or apply seed into areas
Apr 15 – Apply Fertilome Classic Slow Release Fertilizer.
Summer – Fescue growth slows when soil temperatures rise into the
70’s. Mow as infrequently as possible to avoid stimulating
growth. Mow as high as possible to leave the most leaf blade for
light absorption without allowing the grass to lay over on itself.
You should not fertilize during the summer months, however you can apply Ironite
to improve the color and a very light dose of Milorganite appears to
enhance photosynthetic activity to help fescue tolerate more shade. Water
twice a week during periods of heat or drought stress. Fescue should
have the equivalent of 2 inches of rain per week.
Helpful Hints for a Beautiful Lawn
Lime - Liming is the most important thing you can do for your
lawn. Try to keep your pH at 6.5 to produce a quality turf.
Check your pH yearly and if needed add a 40 lb. bag of pelletized lime per
1000 sq. ft. That will raise your pH 1/2 point. After 30 days, check
your pH again to see if additional lime is needed.
Watering - Water thoroughly, when you water. Deep watering
encourages deep root growth and helps protect the grass during periods of
Pre-emerge herbicides - This is the most effective weed control.
After completing a year long program, you will only have to eliminate the
perennial weeds. Remember that pre-emerge herbicides prevent seed
from germinating, so you cannot sow new lawn seed until after the waiting
period that will be listed on the label.
Broadleaf weed killers work best on actively growing weeds. You
can enhance your results by mowing your weeds, letting them re-sprout for 3
days and then spraying the tender new growth.
Always read and follow all instructions on herbicides. Many have
temperature or time of year restrictions that need to be followed to
prevent damage to your lawn or surrounding plants. Use particular
caution in and around the root zone of trees and other desirable
plants. Spot applications are safer than broadcast applications
Fertilizer – Avoid agricultural grade fertilizers such as 6-12-12, 13-13-13 or ammonium nitrate. These products stimulate excessive growth
that you cut off when you next mow. This removes too much green
tissue, exposes stems and allows the sun to dry the surface. Use
controlled release fertilizers for a healthier lawn. For a greener summer
lawn, apply Ironite in May and August.
Seeding - September is the best time to seed. You are entering its
growing season and have 6 months to establish the grass before the stress
of the summer. Temperatures are right to overseed in March, but
there isn’t much time before it slows due to the heat.
Turf type fescues like 5 Star have proven to be the most successful cool
season grass. You may see other types of grass such as Kentucky
bluegrass, Creeping Red Fescue or Perennial Ryegrass, but these have not
proven to be dependably hardy in home lawns.
Organic Options - Corn gluten as a pre-emergent, Milorganite in place of
Fertilome Classic Slow Release.