How to Grow Idaho Fescue

Idaho fescue foliage is spruce-green. image by Chris Wagner/U.S. Forest Service


Idaho fescue produces long thin spruce-green leaves that present in rounded mounds. Like other fescues, these plants make ideal specimen plants and are particularly attractive in borders or in rock gardens. Idaho fescue's slender leaves create a soft and graceful appearance enhancing its overall effect in naturalizing garden areas. When planted in masses, fescue softens rough landscapes and prevents soil erosion.

Step 1

Select a sunny location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Afternoon sun is preferred.

Step 2

Prepare the soil in the fall by tilling to a depth of 8 inches. Add organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost to improve the texture of the soil and to improve drainage. Add one pound of a balanced fertilizer per 100 square feet.

Step 3

Plant in early fall or in spring after the danger of the frost has passed. Ornamental grass planted in spring has higher survival rates because the root system has time to develop throughout the summer.

Step 4

Sow seeds to a depth of a quarter inch spaced 3 to 5 inches apart. Cover with soil and firm down to remove air pockets. For mass planting, seeds can be broadcasted on top of the soil and rake lightly to cover.

Step 5

Water to moisten the soil and keep evenly moist until seedlings emerge in seven to 10 days. Reduce water to once a week once seedlings are several inches high.

Step 6

Remove blooms as they appear to maintain the rounded mound of fescue grass.

Tips and Warnings

  • Fescue might die out in the center if soil is not well-drained.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tools
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Balanced fertilizer (10-10-10)
  • Mulch (optional)


  • University of Illinois Extension
  • USDA
  • High Country Gardens

Who Can Help

  • Ornamental Grass Guide
Keywords: Idaho fescue, fescue, ornamental grass

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo by: Chris Wagner/U.S. Forest Service