Winter Lawn Care for Tall Fescue

— Written By Frankie Bogutsky
en Español

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Have you aerated, re-seeded, fertilized, and established a healthy tall fescue lawn this season? If not, it is best to wait until next fall to establish a tall fescue lawn by seed.

Spring seeding typically cannot make it through the summer months. You may also consider installing tall fescue sod or exploring other turf grasses for your home lawn. To keep your tall fescue lawn healthy, you must continue care through the winter months as this cool season grass is actively growing. Tall fescue requires a 2-½ to 3 inch mowing height, and it is best to leave clippings on the lawn for additional nitrogen. Tall fescue needs 1 to 1-¼ inches of water every week, ideally all at once. Water to a depth of 4 to 6 inches to adequately wet the soil. Typically clay soils will have runoff from irrigation because they absorb water slowly, allow water to absorb, then begin irrigating again until reaching desired amount. Always irrigate in the morning hours to reduce incidence of disease.

Tall fescue grass should only be fertilized in the fall and winter months when it is actively growing. Do not fertilize after March 15. Ideally a soil test will indicate the type and amount of fertilizer needed. If you do not test, use a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium turf-grade fertilizer, for example, a 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 fertilizer and apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen in November and again in February. Regular leaf removal is essential in keeping tall fescue alive. Leaf accumulation atop a new lawn will kill the young grass.

Applying these practices will ensure a healthy and beautiful lawn for the upcoming months.