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How to Plant Kentucky 31 Fescue

Even in these water-wise days, a lawn is still a crucial part of many gardens. Ground cover and hardscape cannot compete with lawn in providing a comfortable play surface for children and dogs. Your local climate dictates the kind of grass that produces an attractive lawn. Kentucky 31 is a grass that has been planted widely since 1931. According to the Texas Cooperative Extension, Kentucky 31 is in the Tall Fescue grass family (Festuca arundinacea) and does well in hot summers, cold winters and a range of soils.

Prepare Soil

Put on your gardening gloves, start the rototiller and run it over the area where you will plant the Kentucky 31 seeds. Till 6-8 inches deep. Stop after you have gone over the area once.

Open the container of composted organic matter and use your gloved hands to scoop it onto the planting area. Scatter evenly and use your rake to finish spreading it in a 1-inch layer above the tilled soil.

Run the rototiller only once over the area, mixing the composted matter with the soil.

Grade Soil & Sow Seed

Rake the area to even the surface of the soil.

Push the roller over the area to make the surface flat and smooth. Roll the area completely in one direction and then the opposite direction.

Calculate how much seed you need with the formula of 20 pounds of Kentucky 31 seed per acre of soil.

Put half of the seed in the drop-spreader. Start at one corner of the area and push the drop-spreader from one side of the area to the other side. Overlap your tracks in regular rows as if you were mowing a lawn.

When the drop-spreader is empty, refill it with the remaining seed. Turn 90 degrees and push the spreader from the top to the bottom of the area, again overlapping your tracks, until all the seed has been sown.

Fertilize, Water & Mow

Calculate how much fertilizer you need, following the formula of 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

Put half of the fertilizer at a time in the drop-spreader and apply it as you did the Kentucky 31 seed.

Set your sprinkler to evenly cover the seeded area. Run the sprinkler two to four times a day until the soil starts to look shiny. Stop the watering session if you see puddles forming.

Water the area for 2-3 weeks to ensure optimal germination of the seed. Over the 3 weeks, gradually decrease the number of watering sessions, being careful to keep the soil moist but not soggy. By the end of the first month you should be watering once or twice a week.

When the Kentucky 31 is 3 inches tall, mow it to a height of 2 inches.


Plant Kentucky 31 in late summer or early fall, when temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and there are 8 weeks of growing time. Sowing seed in the spring is less successful because of the challenges of summer drought and abundant weeds.


Do not till soil that is extremely wet or dry.

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