Fescue, a species of cool season lawn and pasture grass, initially came to the North America from Europe. This low-maintenance, shade-tolerant grass grows well in the northern United States and in shady areas of transition zones. Plant fescue for a quick growing-grass that spreads to cover an entire area. Fescues include tall fescue and shorter, finer varieties such as creeping red, sheep fescue and chewings fescue.
Select Correct Planting Time
Plant fescue seeds in fall, when soil temperature is between 50 to 65 degrees, to provide them two cool seasons, fall and spring, to germinate and establish themselves. You can also plant in spring, although then the seeds will have one cool season to germinate. Although fescue is heat resistant, horticulturalists do not recommend summer planting as it makes the grass go dormant. This will also save you the expense of watering two or three times a day.
Prepare the Site
If seeding bare soil, loosen the top 5 to 6 inches with a tiller or shovel to aerate it and add a 2-inch layer of compost. Turn it over so the compost mixes well with the soil. If planting over thin or dead grass, run a dethatching rake over the area to collect and remove it. If over seeding a bare spot, mow the surrounding lawn grass and run a thatching rake over it to collect thatch and plant debris that could prevent the seeds from reaching the soil, thus impeding germination.
You need 4 to 5 lbs. of seed for every 1,000 square foot. Spread the seeds by hand if covering a small area, working towards an even distribution. For larger areas, however, add seeds to a broadcast spreader and follow label directions for correct application rates. Rake the seeds gently to cover them ¼ inch in the soil. You can also spread a thin but even layer of mulch over the seeds to help retain moisture and prevent birds from eating them. Depending on light and soil temperatures, your fescue seeds will germinate in five days to 2 weeks.
Water the seeds immediately with a garden hose at medium to low setting or use a sprinkler system for an even and controlled distribution. Provide the seeds enough water to ensure the soil is evenly moist, without creating pools or puddles of standing water. Water seedlings early each morning until they are 2 inches tall. Remember to hold back watering if it rains, as overwatering is as harmful as under-watering and can adversely affect the health of your grass. Do not mow your young seedlings, but wait until the grass is at least 3 inches tall.