With over 100 species, the fescues are cool-season grasses originally brought to the United States from Europe. These grasses include tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) and shorter varieties such as chewings fescue, sheep fescue and creeping red. These shade tolerant grasses grow in parts of the northern United States with cold winters and mild summers, and thrive in shady parts of transition areas (much of the central United States) as well. Fescues grow best when soil temperatures remain constant between 55 and 65 degrees F.
Clear the planting site of any vegetation, plant debris, and rocks or stones. Till the area to a depth of 3 to 4 inches to help aerate the soil and break compacted mounds into smaller pieces.
Pour a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of organic compost or well-rotted manure over the site and rake it in so it mixes with the soil well.
Spread fescue seeds by hand for small areas or use a broadcast spreader for large areas. Follow manufacturer instructions for correct spread rate per 1000 square feet, which is usually 3 to 4 lbs. Work toward an even distribution.
Rake the planted seeds lightly with a leaf rake to ensure the seeds go ¼ inch deep in the bed. Pushing the seeds any deeper in the soil impedes germination.
Mulch the planting site to prevent weeds from growing around the seeds and to retain moisture. Mulching also protects seeds from birds that chew on them and from heavy gushes of rainwater that might spread the seeds to different areas.
Water the planting site immediately to ensure the soil is evenly moist. Do not allow water to form puddles or pool around the site. Depending on soil temperatures and light conditions, your seeds will germinate in six days to two weeks. Water the seedlings every day, preferably early in the morning to prevent fungal diseases, until they are 2 inches tall.