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View Full Version : starting a fescue lawn from scratch


inzane
09-14-2012, 09:43 PM
i've done plenty of aerations and overseedings, but have yet to start one from scratch. i'm doing my backyard tommorow, small, around 3,000 or so square feet. so far, what i have done is killed off everything, dug out all the bermuda sod that was there. i'm gonna till it really good first.. the soil isn't to compacted, it turns over easy with a shovel, not to bad for georgia clay. i've been getting out the rocks, its pretty much ready to go.. was wondering what the best steps to go about this for the best results?? should i till in the lime and fert? this is the first time i used a tiller, this thing is my great grandfather-in law's tiller, its over 30 years old i believe... still runs like a champ.. lol.

i'd really like to not use wheat straw, after i till, should i use a roller? what is the best way to level?? i was gonna just try to hard rake. if i need to get a roller i'd have to rent it, or buy the cheap one from northern tool or home depot. i'm really doing this on a budget, the wife wants grass back there.. its the perfect mix of sun and shade for the fescue, we had mostly fescue with some bermuda and dallis grass. back there before i killed it off.. didn't quite have enough bermuda back there to get it going, but i had two nice patches of it that i kept up over the summer and transplanted to another part of the yard..

i'm gonna be using the lesco trigold transition blend, have heard good stuff about it.

White Gardens
09-14-2012, 09:55 PM
If I were you, I would rent a dingo with the toro soil cultivator. As long as the soil isn't too hard, it will till fairly deep along with burying stones at the bottom of the till zone.

That and it leaves a perfect seed bed behind with little to no raking.

Even though you are on a budget, it's a matter of what your time is worth, if you can minimize your time on this project, then it's more time to keep making money.

I would just seed and then water. The problem with straw, if it isn't steralized it will have weed seed in it. All you need to do is lightly water once in the morning and once at night. As soon as it starts to sprout, water a little heavier once in the morning. After it starts taking hold, cut back on the watering.

As for the seed blend, not sold on it. Not saying it doesn't work, but look around locally and see if there are any suppliers that recommend certain fescue varieties for your specific area. We have FS (Farmers Service) and a FS custom turf division. They special blend varieties for our specific area, so the results are about as good as you can get.

Oh, and the other thing I can recommend is that you broadcast your seed and then take a spring rake, turned upside down and run it across the top. This way you harrow in the seed just below the surface where you need it to be.

Also, what cultivar Fescue is in the Lesco Blend? Just curious, there is some new varieties out there that have a great spreading tendency and drought tolerance. The Titan cultivar comes to my mind first.

.....

cgaengineer
09-14-2012, 09:56 PM
If I were you I wouldn't plant fescue in GA...it won't survive well.
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knox gsl
09-14-2012, 10:00 PM
If you are in GA then the Bermuda will be back about August of next year. I know you went in there and cut out all the sod then you go in and till the soil then do everything by the book to get fescue to grow. The lawn looks great then the summer heat rolls in and you notice the bright green color of your old friend, Bermuda. Save yourself a lot of hassle and get some zoysia it can handle the slightly shaded areas along with some heat while choking out Bermuda.
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White Gardens
09-14-2012, 10:00 PM
If I were you I wouldn't plant fescue in GA...it won't survive well.
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And that was going to be my first response, but some of the newer Fescue varities are proving highly resilient to heat and drought stress.

Actually, I was just going to post, "Good Luck" initially.

....

Patriot Services
09-14-2012, 10:13 PM
If you are in GA then the Bermuda will be back about August of next year. I know you went in there and cut out all the sod then you go in and till the soil then do everything by the book to get fescue to grow. The lawn looks great then the summer heat rolls in and you notice the bright green color of your old friend, Bermuda. Save yourself a lot of hassle and get some zoysia it can handle the slightly shaded areas along with some heat while choking out Bermuda.
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Too true. I posted about this very topic in another thread and was told I don't know what I am talking about. What is with this deep tilling. Its going to settle very unevenly. Fluffing up 3 inches gives you plenty to rake around.
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inzane
09-14-2012, 10:47 PM
thanks guys.. i know fescue isn't the best in this area. i believe we are about 90% bermuda in my area (my old trugreen route was anyway..) but there are some people who still insist on growing it here, and it'd be nice to have an area. of fescue in my backyard to mess with over the next year, to help develop my program a little better.. i haven't treated a fescue lawn in a while, but still have those here.

i know the bermuda is gonna start creeping back by the summer.. but i transplanted the big areas to the other side of the yard where i had a a nice stand of bermuda with some bare areas that needed filled in.. its gonna be a strange backyard to say the least.. i will post some pictures when i get them. i have a good stand of bermuda on one side, gonna have a mulch bed in the middle and fescue on the other side.. lol. i'm gonna get rid of the fescue eventually and sod bermuda, so not to concerned with the bermuda comming back, i'm expecting it too. bermuda/fescue mix would be better than what it was before. gonna definetly do bermuda or zoyzia sod back there in a few years.. just not the top of my priorities financially.. as i'm trying to grow a new lawn care business.

the blend on the label of the fescue seed..

starfire 33%
stetson II 33%
mojave II 33%

i dunno, not to much worried about it, if it was a customers lawn that'd be different, my backyard.. not to important. :) i will try it out and see what happens.. will update the thread with pictures.

thanks again for the quick responses.

cgaengineer
09-14-2012, 11:01 PM
I won't even take on a fescue lawn as a chemical applicator....I will fertilize it but that's it.
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cgaengineer
09-14-2012, 11:02 PM
And that was going to be my first response, but some of the newer Fescue varities are proving highly resilient to heat and drought stress.

Actually, I was just going to post, "Good Luck" initially.

....

It boils down to this: it's still a cool season grass...even UGA turf people tell you this. I've seen UGAs test plots of fescue in August...nearly dead.
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White Gardens
09-14-2012, 11:14 PM
It boils down to this: it's still a cool season grass...even UGA turf people tell you this. I've seen UGAs test plots of fescue in August...nearly dead.
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Nearly dead or Dormant?

Fescue lawns did the best up here this year with our drought. They stayed greener longer and recovered faster than any other variety.

Not saying that they are suitable for the south, but Fescue seem to be the new rage up north. I'm done with Blue-Grass and Rye. Fescue, especially the new cultivars are holding up extremely well in extreme conditions.

......

Groomer
09-15-2012, 09:37 AM
White's right. Same here in my region, its the fescue lawn that have recovered the quikest from this year's brutal drought. (Which technically we're still in.)

cgaengineer
09-15-2012, 10:05 AM
Nearly dead or Dormant?

Fescue lawns did the best up here this year with our drought. They stayed greener longer and recovered faster than any other variety.

Not saying that they are suitable for the south, but Fescue seem to be the new rage up north. I'm done with Blue-Grass and Rye. Fescue, especially the new cultivars are holding up extremely well in extreme conditions.

......

Dormant and dead...dormant means it will come back and recover fully...dead means it will have to be overseeded to return to its original state. Around here it usually goes dormant to the point where the plant cannot recover which results in its death.
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RigglePLC
09-15-2012, 11:44 AM
I am not from your area, but...I have heard that 10 percent bluegrass or heat tolerant Texas blue...should be included to add self-repair ability. Is the area irrigated? Do temps get over 95 often?

RigglePLC
09-15-2012, 12:51 PM
Be sure to look up the seed varieties on National Turf Evaluation Program
http://ntep.org/

I would try to use varieties from a location near you,or a group of states near you, "Transition Zone". And try to get varieties from the top 10 or 25 percent of the quality list, using the average (mean) quality scores.

For instance Falcon V, Shenandoah Elite, and Firecracker LS

TScapes
09-16-2012, 10:00 AM
When I was in the Atlanta market during the 90's, we had several clients that had Fescue as their turf type. The problem is just the nature of fescue itself. It's a money pit!! It only grows vertical, gets disease and grubs, stresses out and goes to @&*% if not on a strict turf program every year.

BUT... since you have expressed that you are on a budget and this is what you are wanting to do... here is my suggestion. Rake out everything that you have done thus far. Invest in some GOOD compost/soil mix. (This will be the only thing I am proposing extra). Seed everything you have done, then dump the compost mix about every 10-15ft for topdressing. Spread it out adding 1/2"-1/4" to the top. Seed again and water in! If you don't want to use straw, then just make sure you water it regularly. It will have a tendency to dry out faster without the straw. However, y'alls temps are dropping like ours, so you should be good. Make sure you either fert, if you haven't already.

Good luck!

inzane
09-16-2012, 02:34 PM
couldn't even do the compost.. i did what i did. if it comes up, it comes up. :) wasn't expecting so many calls this fall being a new lawn care business, but have been fairly busy for somebody with a full time overnight job as well. so i did what i could with what time i had.. i tilled it yesterday afternoon, tried to rake it as level as i could.. this morning spread out half the rate of 8lbs per thousand square feet. went over it once with the aerator.. then put the other half of the seed.. turned rake upside down and did as suggested above.. its just a mess, i thought aerating it could help some.. we will see. i probally should have researched the seed more. should be interesting to see what happens. if it doesnt i'm only out 20 bucks in grass seed some starter fert.. and my time.. i could use the excercise anyway. will post some pictures soon. its just a POS back yard anyway. i bought this place as a forclosure last year. not expecting much. honestly, it probally will look better than it did.

i worked for a few different places in the 90's in atlanta.. i had a route in buckhead at one point, and in the city of marietta, and east cobb. plenty of folks who keep fescue in these areas.. back then, lot of people with the money to keep up with it. to each his own i guess. now.. i will take them on, but i let them know what to expect with fescue in hotlanta. problem with all the new homes they used to build here, they sod the front, then put cheap rye in the back that looks nice till the summer then the new home owner is left with a big mess in the back, no grass.

Patriot Services
09-16-2012, 03:15 PM
I'm sure that deep tilled yard is going to settle into a lumpy nightmare to mow.
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cgaengineer
09-16-2012, 03:19 PM
I'm sure that deep tilled yard is going to settle into a lumpy nightmare to mow.
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I've used both a Harley rake and a tiller on a dingo, the tiller/dingo turned out terrible...to this day it's still rough and I even used a roller after I laid the sod...never again will I use a tiller.
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inzane
09-16-2012, 08:15 PM
yep, definetly gonna be a lumpy mowing nightmare. already was before. may be worse now.. . thats why i went over with the aerator. no roller, so i thought it could help some.. raked more after that. almost seemed like a waste of time. after i tilled it, i realised i pretty much just brought up a bunch of rocks. probally should have had dirt hauled in, etc.. when i finally sod i am gonna get somebody who can prepare the ground right. mabee some grass will come up for now, and i can have a bumpy green lawn again for a few years. my bermuda is like this, i have to mow it taller than i want just for it to look right. but atleast i can level that eventually.

larryinalabama
09-16-2012, 08:34 PM
I have a beautiful front yard of fescue, originally I tilled, raked it out with a 36" landscape rake, seeded used the back side of a leaf rake to move the seed around, then threw bags of composted manure on top of the seed.

In about 12 days youll see alot of green and by Christmas it will look ok provided you dont let the leaves stay on it. Late Feburary the stuff will grow like crazy and will need to be cut twice a week. After the last frost it is a must to bag what you cut, and never ever cut it when its wet or rain is expected the day you cut it. That lasts till late June then it starts to get brown spots, spray helps but is not a cureall. Late sepetember you get to overseed the stuff and start the cycle all over.

inzane
09-16-2012, 09:19 PM
here are the pictures if any of you need a good laugh for today. still considering getting a few bales of straw to put out. afraid i might get busy with work and miss one watering. going for 2 a day.. to keep it moist.. supposed to get rain next to days.. hope its nothing to heavy.. :)

i had some pictures of what it looked like before. http://www.lawnsite.com/showpost.php?p=4501166&postcount=18 not much time and money to put into it.

just going up about half way up with the fescue because i actually got a good stand of bermuda at top of hill, gonna put some kinda mulch bed in the middle area. this was the roughest area. i am wanting to plant something there, like a tree or something. i had transplanted some of the sod i dug up to top of hill where the bermuda was bare.

it'd be nice to have something back there more than what i had.. then one day when i have money will be sodding with a bermuda or zoyzia. i hate this backyard. the wife wanted this house, had to have it.. and i was shaking my head about the yard.. and the basement not finished. but... HELL of a deal on the house. :laugh:

inzane
09-30-2012, 08:11 PM
its been 14 days. wish i had a closer up picture.. it doesn't look so great. i seeded at 8lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. but its really thin so far. looks OK from far away. we are getting some heavy rains the next week, so i'm not gonna do anything this week, but when should i touch up areas? should i expect more to come up over next week or so? or is that pretty much it?

knox gsl
09-30-2012, 10:54 PM
Expect 21 days for gemination on average. By next week you should see a nice green glow to the area and ready for mowing around a month later.

suzook
10-01-2012, 09:13 AM
It looks pretty good to me. The one thing that does look odd is that bed...kinda strange where it is.

lawn2012start
10-01-2012, 02:34 PM
I have noticed a lot local places dont sell good seed. not saying all dont. I went to agway to buy a mix and it came up but thats it if you know what I mean....and just didnt have turf like ablility. I used defiance xre.....not the best rated top 5 grass but the stuff is good and has came up nice and thick and strong and I never got into planting grass until the summer. also make sure you loosen up the soil down a little and get rid of the junk in it.

lawn2012start
10-01-2012, 02:37 PM
that grass in back part looks pretty good after 14 days. overseeding really help though to fill that in.

inzane
10-02-2012, 01:16 PM
i don't care for it myself, but it is what it is.. lol. i knew it was gonna look wierd.. but.. to many problems with the middle area right now to try to grow grass there. way to many rocks and boulders in the middle.. was on a pretty tight budget with it too.I couldn't even mow what was in the middle before, had to line trim.. i'm just glad i will be able to spend less time mowing, and i'm not looking at a bunch of dirt and rocks. just gonna have to deal with ugly burnt up fescue in the summer. but i can deal with that.

i would put money into a walkbehind or tank sprayer before i did this backyard. the wife likes it, so i guess thats always a plus. :drinkup:


It looks pretty good to me. The one thing that does look odd is that bed...kinda strange where it is.

inzane
10-06-2012, 12:32 PM
when should i mow this new fescue?? its been right at 20 days, its 4 inches high in some spots. i went over it with more seed because its patchy.. will see what happens. worried that its gonna get to high. mabee i should have waited till it was mowed once.. feel like i don't have much time left anyway, first frost will be here before we know it.

Kawizx62003
10-10-2012, 12:29 PM
Inzane, I am in the exact same boat as you. I am at day 20 today. I seeded at 8 lbs. it looks great from a distance but up close it's thin. A few area look better than others. The good areas are 4 inches. I am wondering if I should cut it this week and spread more seed at half the rate. Being that it's a bunch grass I am scared ti over do it.

inzane
10-10-2012, 12:42 PM
i'm 23 days out. today it looks a little better. some of the additional seed i put out is sprouting a bit. the week of heavy rain we had last week didn't help to much, the area on right slopes down, and the water washed some of the new grass out a bit, its kinda matted down.. i backed off my watering some. i guess i'm gonna get the sprinkler out every 3rd day and just continue to mist the thinner areas i overseeded once or twice daily.. i'm not expecting much out of this lawn by the looks of it. first time seeding one from scratch, and probally gonna be the last

Inzane, I am in the exact same boat as you. I am at day 20 today. I seeded at 8 lbs. it looks great from a distance but up close it's thin. A few area look better than others. The good areas are 4 inches. I am wondering if I should cut it this week and spread more seed at half the rate. Being that it's a bunch grass I am scared ti over do it.

inzane
10-10-2012, 12:49 PM
here are some recent pictures from about 6 days ago.

RigglePLC
10-10-2012, 08:37 PM
Looks amazingly good! Way to go, Inzane!

jonthepain
10-10-2012, 08:56 PM
looks good!

also looks like it might have enough shade to survive july and august even.

wtg

White Gardens
10-11-2012, 09:57 AM
looks good!

also looks like it might have enough shade to survive july and august even.

wtg

That's going to help out immensely. During our drought this year, any areas with any shade almost stayed green during the nastiest parts of summer.

As for the density of it, just be patient. Fescue needs to get established, and once it does, it starts to clump and fill out nicely. Next spring is when your going to notice how nice it is.

As for mowing, I just wait until it turns a nice shade of dark green, and then use a push mower on a high setting.

....

inzane
10-13-2012, 02:40 PM
i think the fescue should do fine back there, plenty of shade.. a little sun at parts of the day. there was mostly fescue back there until late spring when i killed it all off, i had some other plans to go with a warm season turf type, but changed my mind.

I broke down and mowed today, just took a little off the top.. parts were a bit over 4 inches, i just don't want to wait and it gets real tall and i have a jungle to mow. it is looking good today. might not be a bad lawn after all. not to terribly bumpy to mow either (despite the deep till) i mean, i won't be cutting at the lower limits of the recommended cutting height for tall fescue. i'm glad to have some normal turf areas back there now, before it was a nightmare to deal with and i hated to mow it.

inzane
10-20-2012, 06:05 PM
i like how it looks, got the second fert down and we got some good rain.. i've mowed it a second time yesterday.. have plenty of leaves to deal with. :) had just picked em all up with the mower, and by the time i got mower back in garage more leaves.. lol.

jonthepain
10-20-2012, 06:24 PM
looks like the trigold was a good choice for that area

inzane
11-21-2012, 04:58 PM
i have not dealt with fescue in a very long time, am i gonna be good for broadleaf weed control app now? seeded this sept. 15th. its horrible looking. i've mowed over 3 times so far i got some close up pics.. (yeah i need to sharpen that mower blade) if i get rid of the weeds i might not have much of anything left.. :) i'd like to take care of it before it gets to cold, its a nice day here in georgia. we have got the windows open.. feels good. thinking of getting a blanket app of speedzone on it this week.

cpllawncare
02-23-2013, 04:27 PM
Zane how are you looking on your yard?I am starting two fescues from scratch this year, any thoughts on to do 's and not to do's, I'm using a harley rake on both, I really don't want to use any straw either, I noticed you didn't use straw? good idea or not? what variety did you choose? I'm in the piedmont section of zone 7 Just looking for the best results, I personally like TTF I know it's a lot of work but it really looks good when cared for properly.

inzane
02-23-2013, 05:01 PM
here is a picture after mowing last week, I got rid of the broadleaf now. Its actually pretty green, its just hard to get a good shot on a bright day. overall, its not so bad now.. I'm glad i didn't use straw.. In the past on overseedings where i'd use straw i remember how annoying the straw germination would get by spring.. I didn't want to deal with that. I just kept the seed bed damp everyday, and it seemed to do fine.

It is a little bumpy from the tilling, but nothing to bad.. it was the easiest route to take for me.. that soil was pretty compacted. I spent time with a landscape rake trying to level it after tilling.. it didn't settle all that uneven like i was thinking it might.. I mow it with my exmark 36 floating deck and it mows just fine, as well as with my honda 21". just slightly bumpy, but not a nightmare to mow or anything.

Zane how are you looking on your yard?I am starting two fescues from scratch this year, any thoughts on to do 's and not to do's, I'm using a harley rake on both, I really don't want to use any straw either, I noticed you didn't use straw? good idea or not? what variety did you choose? I'm in the piedmont section of zone 7 Just looking for the best results, I personally like TTF I know it's a lot of work but it really looks good when cared for properly.

jonthepain
02-23-2013, 06:58 PM
looks great.

cpllawncare
02-23-2013, 11:30 PM
WOW that does look good, I take it your going to overseed in the fall to add some thickness? What variety of fescue did you use?

inzane
02-24-2013, 10:08 AM
i used the tri-gold from lesco. definetly will need to overseed in the fall as i have some thin areas.


WOW that does look good, I take it your going to overseed in the fall to add some thickness? What variety of fescue did you use?

larryinalabama
02-24-2013, 11:22 AM
You will soon be cutting that stuff 2x per week. Dont forget to put lots of lime