How to Establish a Fescue Lawn


Many varieties of fescue grass will give you a strong, healthy lawn. The original Kentucky-31 tall fescue cultivar has been improved upon to produce strains with finer blades, richer color and stronger root systems. Fescue is a durable cool-season turf grass that is normally started from seed. The best time to plant fescue is early fall when weeds are less vigorous and the nights are cool, which stimulates root growth.

Step 1

Determine the pH level of your soil well before seeding. Like many turf grasses, fescue prefers a soil pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Soil testing kits are available from most garden centers or you can arrange a test through your local county extension office. Apply lime to raise the pH when necessary. How much to apply depends on the type of soil you have and the pH change needed. Consult your county extension agent for guidance on lime and other soil amendments.

Step 2

Clear the lawn area of all plants and debris, including large stones. Level the ground with a rake and use a hand roller to make a smooth surface. Hand rollers have a large drum that you fill with water to add weight. Use the rake to make shallow channels for the seed. Only rake in one direction so you have a series of parallel channels a few inches apart.

Step 3

Divide the grass seed in half. Using the broadcast spreader, distribute half of the seed by making passes back and forth across the lawn. Change the direction to cross seed the remaining half, moving up and down the lawn.

Step 4

Cover the seed with about 1/4 inch of soil using the rake and roll the lawn again to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Step 5

Spray the lawn with a fine mist of water. It's imperative to keep the seeds and soil moist during the first 30 days to get good germination. You may need to water twice a day and it's best to do so in the morning and evening. Once the fescue has sprouted, it needs 1 inch of water per week and this is best applied with a good soaking rather than frequent, light watering.

Step 6

Cut the grass for the first time when it is 3 inches tall. Fescue is healthiest when kept at 1 to 2 inches in height, so mow it often. Apply slow-release fertilizer in spring and fall. Your county extension agent will be able to provide advice on the right type and amount for a fescue lawn, based on local growing conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • Fescue seed
  • Lawn roller
  • Garden rake
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Lawn mower


  • University of Missouri Extension: Growing Tall Fescue
  • Virginia State University Extension: Establishing Lawns
  • Pike Nurseries: Fescue Care
Keywords: establish fescue lawn, planting fescue lawns, planting fescue grass

About this Author

Based in Surrey, British Columbia, Stephen Oakley is a freelance writer focusing on environmental issues, travel and all things outdoors. His background includes many years spent working in the Canadian wilderness and traveling worldwide.