Fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are types of cool-season grasses. Fescue grows in northern United States, Canada and some areas in transitional zones (central United States, for example), while Kentucky bluegrass grows in the Northwest, Northeast, Midwest and mountains of United States and Canada. Fescue grass is native to Europe, while Kentucky bluegrass is native to northern Asia, Europe and the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. Both perennial grass types withstand cold winters and moderate summers.
Fescue grass propagates by seed or sod to grow into clusters of grass. Kentucky bluegrass spreads by seed, rhizomes from the main plant and tillers to become a dense grass with vertical stems.
Fescue grass has four common varieties: creeping, chewing, tall (the most common) and hard. Most of these grasses are deep green with a medium to fine texture, deep roots and reach a height of 3 to 4 feet when allowed to grow. Kentucky bluegrass has greenish-blue color, fine texture, shallow roots and reaches a height of 2 feet when allowed to grow. Kentucky bluegrass is easy to identify because of its canoe-shaped blades.
Fescue grasses are extremely durable and withstand plenty of traffic, which is why they grow in sports fields, play areas and parks. Kentucky bluegrass, on the other hand, is moderately durable and does not tolerate heavy or consistent foot traffic well. For these reasons, gardeners mix both these grass seeds and plant.
All types of fescue grasses tolerate partial shade and moderate sunlight, and drought to some degree. Kentucky bluegrass tolerates extreme winter weather conditions and harsh cold, moderate moisture and full sunlight. Its hardiness and lush appearance make it one of the most popular cool-season grass; however, Kentucky bluegrass is not very shade-tolerant or drought-resistant. Fescue is more drought-resistant than Kentucky bluegrass.
Fescue grass require moderate amounts of water in the summer or in times of high heat or drought. Kentucky bluegrass requires regular watering in hot summer months, specially in periods of high heat and drought.
Fescue grasses are susceptible to four diseases that require fungicide application: slime mold, brown patch, dollar spot and pythium blight. Although fescue withstands disease to some extent, lack of proper care and maintenance weakens its structure, making it vulnerable to diseases. Summer patch and necrotic ring spot are two patch diseases that cause most damage in Kentucky bluegrass.
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