Fescue grass is a common grassy weed, used as a turf grass and winter grass. It's cool-season growing habit makes it ideal for growing grass over the winter, clearing up patches in the lawn and preventing disease. When not used as a turf grass, fescue becomes a hard-to-kill, invasive weed that survives throughout the winter and well into the spring growing time of the warm-season grass in your lawn.
Fescue grass is part of a large genus of 100 species of grasses, says the Texas A & M University Extension. Tall fescue is the most common variety used in lawns and found in the wild. Dynasty, Plantation, Falcon IV, Rebel Exeda, Van Gogh, Rhambler, Mustang IV, Monet and Kentucky 31 are all fescue turfgrass varieties.
Fescue grass grows in bunches, producing short rhizomes that spread it throughout the environment. When left to grow, fescue will rise to a height of 3 to 4 feet, at the top showing seeds, with long, green leaves down the stalk, says the Texas A & M Extension. When cut to a short height, the grass is green and dense, making it ideal for turf grass and re-establishing a patchy lawn.
Fescue is established using seed or sod in the lawn. Seeding is best in September to October, says the Alabama Cooperative Extension, applied at a rate of 5 to 8 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Soil is then irrigated to a depth of 4 to 6 inches to germinate the seed and establish a strong root system. Fescue requires good root establishment before the first frost arrives. Mowing is required when the grass is 2 1/2 inches in height, and is often needed throughout the winter months.
Fescue requires a small amount of fertilizer to survive, between 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn, says the Alabama Cooperative Extension. The biggest application of fertilizer is required in the fall before the cold winter begins to ensure fescue is healthy and will survive winter conditions. One pound of nitrogen applied in September, October and November will ensure a healthy fescue lawn. Fescue also requires 1 inch of water per week, even during the winter.
Tall fescue varieties thrive best at a mowing height of 2 to 3 inches, says the Alabama Cooperative Extension. Fescue requires a third of the blade length be cut each time it is mowed to prevent disease and promote dense growth.