Time to start planning to Re-seed your Tall Fescue Lawn!

— Written By Lauren Hill
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Fall is the ideal time to plan to re-seed your existing tall fescue lawn. The soil temperatures are still warm for the seed to easily germinate and thrive in the cool season to come. The middle to end of September is the best time to re-seed your tall fescue lawn. During this time the air and soil temperatures are optimum for tall fescue germination. The air temperature is 70 to 80°F and soil temperatures greater than 60°F. It is better for the air and soil temperatures to be warmer than cooler for the best germination rates. Seeding tall fescue in less than ideal conditions can result in poor germination rates and thin turf.

It is important to soil test your tall fescue lawn to determine lime and fertilizing needs. The ideal soil pH for a tall fescue lawn is 5.8- 6.5. This can be achieved through soil testing and amending with lime and the proper fertilizers.

Purchasing quality and fresh seed ensures success in re-seeding. Check the label for sell-by date, germination rate, percent of weed seed, and look for names of grass cultivars in the mix.

Turf seed label.

List of top-performing cultivars: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/top-performing-tall-fescue-and-kentucky-bluegrass-cultivars

Before seeding, aerating your soil is highly recommended to ensure the seed comes into direct contact with the soil and reduces any soil compaction. After seeding, the area will need to be watered to keep the top 1.5 inches of soil moist at all times. Depending on the weather and soil, light watering for the next 7 to 21 days after seeding may be required. Wait until new grass reaches 4.5 inches before mowing at a 3-inch height. How often you need to mow will depend on how quickly the turf grows, which will vary with temperature, fertility, and moisture levels. Allow clippings to fall into the turf where they will decay and release nutrients. This can reduce the need for fertilizer by 20-30%.

Seed and seedlings can be damaged easily by herbicide applications. Check the label of herbicides applications before putting down seed after use. Do not apply herbicides until the new stand of grass has been mowed at least 3 times. So no weed and feed products at time of seeding.

Read more at: https://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/09/time-to-seed-tall-fescue/

Learn More!

  • See pages 11-16 in the “Carolina Lawns” publication for more detailed instructions on establishing a new lawn, and pages 18-20 for instructions on renovating an existing lawn. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns
  • Download the Tall Fescue Lawn Maintenance Calendar for more recommendations on tall fescue care throughout the year. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/tall-fescue-lawn-maintenance-calendar Maintenance calendars for other turf types are available from NCSU TurfFiles, under the Maintenance Calendars tab.
  • Not sure which is the best turf for your lawn? Try the TurfFiles Turf Selection Aid: http://turfselect.ncsu.edu/TurfSelection.aspx Visit the NC Extension TurfFiles website for more information on turf selection, care, and pest management:https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/
  • Use Extension Search to find research-based information from Cooperative Extension systems across the U.S.
  • For more detailed information and questions please contact Lauren Hill 704-920-3310 or lhdunca3@ncsu.edu