Definition of Fescue


Fescue is the name of a grass that is native to Europe and can be found in North Africa and North America, as stated by Richard L. Duble, turfgrass specialist of Texas Cooperative Extension. Fescue grass grows in cooler temperatures and is a shade- and drought-tolerant grass that maintains its green color year round. Some types of fescue grass include tall fescue, creeping red fescue, hard fescue and chewings fescue.


The Festuca genus has over 100 species of fescue grasses. These grasses develop very deep and extensive root systems that make them drought resistant and hardy enough to withstand cold temperatures. Fescue grasses grow in the spring and fall seasons, and when left uncut, the grasses grow up to 4 feet tall with terminal inflorescences.

Tall Fescue

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is a fast-growing variety that quickly develops into a low-maintenance lawn. Tall fescue grows in clumps and forms a dense turf. It can grow in many types of soils but prefers moist soil conditions. Plant the seeds in the fall for a strong and durable lawn in the spring.

Creeping Red Fescue

Also known as red fescue, creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra var. rubra) is a slow-growing grass that grows in the cool temperatures of northern climates. Its deep green grass blades are finer than those of tall fescue. Creeping red fescue grows and spreads by its short rhizomes, and it requires very little maintenance. It is moderately drought tolerant but cannot tolerate heat, as stated by the University of California.

Hard Fescue

Another cool-season fescue grass that grows well in the shade is hard fescue (Festuca longifolia). It can thrive in soil with very little fertilization. It is drought-, cold- and shade-tolerant, but it cannot tolerate heat. Unlike creeping red fescue, hard fescue grows as a bunch grass that has thick root systems and a semi-erect growth pattern, as stated by the University of California.

Chewings Fescue

Chewings fescue is a fine-leaf fescue grass like creeping red fescue. Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra commutata) grows as a bunch grass and has a lighter green color than other fescues. Chewings fescue produces a dense turf and can grow in shallow and infertile soil as long as the soil pH is not very high.


Fescue lawns require regular mowing and watering and periodic fertilization with nitrogen in the early spring or fall. Treat fescue lawns with fungicides if fusarium blight, leaf spot or brownpatch is discovered, or use insecticides to treat insect problems, including white grubs, cutworms or army worms, as related by Texas Cooperative Extension.

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About this Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides, Trails, ConnectED, Helium and others. Manal received her B.S. degree in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.