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Overseeding With Fescue

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Fescue grass originated in Europe and was brought to the United States in the 1800s. It does best in moist areas but can handle periods of drought fairly well. Fescue is shade tolerant if mowed to a slightly higher-than-normal height. The best time to overseed with fescue grass is in the early fall. Overseeding with fescue grass is not much different than overseeding with any perennial grass. Only overseed fescue lawns with fescue grass seed; fescue is not very invasive and your lawn will end up looking patchy if you use two types of grass.

Cut your grass to approximately 1 inch high. Rake the grass clippings into a pile and remove them from the lawn. If you are overseeding a large area, use an aerator, a machine that pulls up small plugs of earth, over the entire area. This will help ensure better soil-to-seed contact.

Mix fescue seed and starter fertilizer together and pour into a broadcast spreader. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding how much of both to put on your lawn. Use approximately half the amount of fescue seed recommended for starting a new lawn. Set the spreader to spread at a rate of approximately 3 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Push the spreader back and forth over your lawn. Then turn and push it up and down to make sure you do not miss any areas.

Water the seed bed twice per day until germination occurs. Set your sprinklers up so that all areas of the yard will get water and leave the sprinklers on for approximately 10 minutes each time. The soil should be moist but not overly wet. You will see germination in about two to three weeks. Once the fescue has germinated, you can cut back to your normal watering regime. Since this grass is fairly resistant to drought, watering fescue deeply yet irregularly will promote a deep root system.


If you choose to overseed with fescue in the spring instead of the fall, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn before spreading seed. This will keep the weeds at bay while your fescue seeds are germinating.

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