Fertilization and Watering
Tall Fescue will thrive on a regular a fertilizing schedule. Many schedules call for three to four applications a year, an early Fall, late Fall, and mid Spring application are typically the best. Some schedules call for a summer application. My preference is to avoid summer applications for the cool weather grasses as there is a greater chance of fertilizer burn. Tall Fescue requires 3-5 Pounds of Nitrogen per year in your applications.
Another area to be careful of is to make sure that the Spring application is not too heavy as excess nitrogen will promote excessive shoot growth and potentially rob the lawn of more important root growth. To accomplish this you may want to apply fertilizer at the rate 1.5# per 1000Sq ft in September, 1.5# per 1000 Sq ft again in October and .5 to 1 # per 1000 Sq Ft in mid spring. The use of a slow release fertilizer is preferable. Most any of the commercially available fertilizers will work well on your Tall Fescue Lawn. It is important to make sure it is a “balanced” fertilizer for lawns such as a 27-4-6 or 20-5-15 as examples and that you take into account the amount of nitrogen required by your grass type. Read more on calculating precise application rates based on your lawns requirements here.
There are varieties of fertilizer that include pre-emergent’s or week killer. My inclination is not to use these unless I know there is a specific problem for my lawn and even then, I prefer to spot treat the problem if at all possible. Pre-emergent’s do work well but it is not advisable to use them if you plan on seeding a new lawn or over seeding any sections.
Lime is recommended for Fescue lawns, both when starting a new lawn and as part of a maintenance schedule. The best time to lawn is when you have aerated as it gives the lime (as well as fertilizer) a chance to work it’s way into the soil. The recommended rate of lime is 25# per 1000 Square feet if twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
An interesting note on Tall fescue is that it responds well to a feeding schedule. Following a schedule should reward you with a lush green lawn.
Fescue is a drought resistant lawn that does require regular watering. The best way to gauge when to water a fescue lawn is to let the lawn itself tell you! You can tell when a fescue lawn requires watering by the color, it will tend to start having a slightly gray color to it and will also slightly crush when you walk on it, leaving visible prints behind you.
A caution for fine fescues is that they don’t tolerate over watering. Being in the shade makes is more susceptible to fungus and mold, All watering should also be done by noon so that the surface grass has a chance to dry before nightfall.
For Turf lawns the recommendation is that they receive a minimum of 1-2 inches of water a week, more watering will produce a healthier, better looking lawn.