How to Improve Tall Fescue Lawns in the Fall


Of the several hundred varieties of grass one of the most common is tall fescue. This hardy grass is capable of resisting drought conditions for extended periods, wet conditions for shorter periods and remains green longer into the fall. Fescue produces a lush tight lawn surface, which makes it ideal for home lawns and sod farms. In order to maximize the fall growth of the grass, certain things need to be done.

Step 1

Use the aerator to aerify the lawn. An aerator is a large tube with hollow round spikes that cut plugs of grass and soil from the ground, when the aerator is rolled over the lawn. The process of aerifying a lawn allows fertilizers, seed and air to infiltrate deeper into the soil to further strengthen root structures. These plugs should be left on the lawn to break down and refill the aeration holes.

Step 2

Fill the spreader with the nitrogen fertilizer. The spreader can be filled directly from the fertilizer bag. Fill the spreader on a hard surface so any spills can be easily cleaned up.

Step 3

Set the spreader to spread the fertilizer at 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet, which is the recommended dispersment for most fall fertilizers. Be sure to check the owners manual for the spreader to get the correct setting.

Step 4

Cover the entire lawn one time with the fertilizer. Be sure not to overlap the fertilizer passes, as this will cause a stripped look when the fertilizer takes effect.

Step 5

Empty the spreader and refill with the fescue seed.

Step 6

Adjust the spreader setting to achieve 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Check the owners manual for the proper setting for seed.

Step 7

Cover the entire area twice with the spreader. The second passes are completed at an angle of 90 degrees to the first passes. Overlapping does not matter with grass seed.

Step 8

Water the entire area for 20 minutes. This will help the grass seed germinate and the fertilizer to break down.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure to clean your shoes after fertilizing a lawn. Nitrogen fertilizer will burn and stain rugs and furniture. Wash hands well after handling fertilizers.

Things You'll Need

  • Aerator
  • Walk-behind spreader
  • Fescue seed
  • Nitrogen fertilizer (5 pounds per 1,000 square feet)


  • West Virginia University Extension: Tall Fescue Management
Keywords: tall fescue, fall grass needs, improving tall fescue

About this Author

Michael Rippetoe has been writing for 15 years, and has recently decided to make it his career. He has been a journeyman carpenter, ASE Master Mechanic, certified irrigation professional and currently writes for this site, designs websites, and does professional photography. Rippetoe's articles appear on eHow, Garden Guides, AnswerBag and others.