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Turf-Type Tall Fescue

By Heather Bliss ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tall fescue can stay green year-round in many areas of the United States.
Grass image by Alexey Hlibov from Fotolia.com

Turf-type fescue is a perennial grass that can stay green year-round under the right temperature and moisture conditions. This grass is popular because it stays green in areas where less temperature-tolerant grasses cannot thrive. Fescue is a low-maintenance grass with few pest or disease problems, but it can become a threat to the native plants in some areas.


Turf-type tall fescue grass grows in most of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. This grass is found most often in the U.S. Northwest, Midwest and South. Fescue is most popular in an area called the transition zone, which includes Arkansas, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Soil Types

Though it can grow in many different types of soil, tall fescue grows best in a well-drained soil comprised mainly of clay material. Turf-type tall fescue can live in soil with few nutrients, but a well-fertilized, nitrogen-rich soil helps keep tall fescue looking its best.


Fescue is a dark green grass that has deep roots and propagates with rhizomes. Rhizomes are underground rootstocks that grow horizontally to reproduce the grass. Left to grow without mowing, tall fescue reaches a height of 3 to 4 feet.


To prevent diseases in tall fescue, mow the grass to a height of 2 inches in the cool seasons and 3 inches in the warm summer months. If soil is deficient, add a supplemental complete turf fertilizer in September and May and apply nitrogen only in February. Young turf-type fescue is at a higher risk of fungal disease than an older fescue lawn; fungicides can be used to kill fungus problems in tall fescue turf grass.


In regions where conditions allow tall fescue to live year-round, this grass can become an invasive weed that threatens native grasses and vegetation. Tall fescue is considered an invasive threat to wild plants in Georgia, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, New Jersey Louisiana, Missouri, Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington, according to the National Park Service.


About the Author


Heather Bliss has been writing professionally since 1998, specializing in technology, computer repair, gardening, music and politics. Bliss holds an Associate of Arts in journalism from Moorpark College. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, San Marcos, completed with a focus on music and performing arts technology.