Red fescue is a tough turf grass that prospers in cooler climates. It has become a popular choice for lawns, as it grows well in both sunny and shady conditions. For residential use, it is commonly known as creeping red fescue, as many hybrids have been developed to increase the spreading ability of the grass.
Red fescue is a low-maintenance lawn grass since it thrives in poor soils. For planting, 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs. of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn is recommended. Making sure the lawn's top soil has been properly prepared before seeding will ensure the maximum rate of germination. Red fescue is also an excellent choice for over-seeding existing lawns. Apply 2 1/2 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet if over-seeding.
Red fescue requires less water than many other lawn grasses; however, it will go into dormancy during the summer months if not watered. A good soaking for 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a week should be enough to keep the grass green. Watering in the morning when the ground is cool, rather than later in the day, will reduce water loss due to evaporation.
Apply a nitrogen fertilizer once a year at a rate of 1 to 2 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. The fertilizer should be applied either in spring or fall, the peak growing periods for the grass. Fertilizer is best applied with a broadcast spreader to ensure an even distribution across the lawn.
Although red fescue makes an attractive ground cover if left to grow, most homeowners prefer to mow regularly. A good average mowing height is 2 inches. During the high-growth spring and fall seasons, the grass will usually need cutting every week. The summer heat slows growth, and mowing every two or even three weeks may be adequate.
Choosing Red Fescue Seed
By itself, red fescue is not a good choice of grass for high-traffic lawns. It does not stand up well to constant wear and tear. However, red fescue seed is most commonly sold in blended mixes of several grasses. Usually, the other grasses in the blend will be more durable for high-use lawn areas. If in doubt, consult your local gardening supply store or lawn care specialist for advice on choosing the right blend.