Darrell Blackwelder: Fall fescue seeding

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

September and October are the best times of the year to seed cool-season fescue lawns. This narrow time frame promotes optimum root growth and development for this type of cool-season grass.

Fescue is the preferred lawn grass species for the Piedmont. But be aware, seed prices will likely be between 30 and 50 percent higher than last year. Demand in the spring was unusually high depleting carry-over seed. A very dry spring followed by the extraordinary June heat in Oregon reduced seed yields on fescues. The logistics and freight issues from the pandemic continue to affect shipment of all goods including grass seed.

It’s important to plant a blend of different turf type fescues each year. Research has proven a blend of three or more types of turf type fescues adapt best to our somewhat unusual growing conditions. Avoid planting turf blends that contain ryegrass seed. Annual and perennial ryegrass are very aggressive and weakens fescue stands throughout the growing season.

Fescue seed sown at 5-7 pounds per 1,000 square feet or about 220 pounds per acre does well in our climate. Apply half the recommended amount to a given area, and then apply the remainder at a right angle to the previous application in an effort to guarantee thorough coverage. Homeowners should use about half the normal seeding rate (3-4 pounds/1,000 square feet) when over-seeding thin or bare areas. Go to  https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns for more detailed information on fescue lawns.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .