Fescue / Kentucky 31 question

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by yardmonkey, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 341

    I've been in the lawncare/landscape maintenance business for 6 and half years. I live in central Oklahoma. I have done plenty of fescue overseeding each fall and usually have good success. Of course around here fescue is grown mainly in the shade and normally needs some irrigation. This year we have had almost no rain. Years ago I asked our extension agent what kind of fescue is best. He replied that there are hundreds of kinds (of tall turf-type fescue) and that they are all good EXCEPT K-31, which he said I should avoid like the plague. I asked why and he said that it makes clumps and causes the lawn to be bumpy. I have observed this. Newer varieties seem to make a nice even lawn. I have used various kinds, usually buying big bags of whatever the seed stores or nurseries have. I once even installed a new lawn in the summer. I didn't think that would work, but with good shade and irrigation, it did very well.

    Anyway, here is what I am wondering about. I have a customer who has a shady front yard (under a silver maple). There is no irrigation system and this guy is not going to water his lawn, ever. That's OK with me as long as it stays healthy enough. For several years now we have overseeded the front in the fall and it stays thick enough for most of the year. This year with our severe drought, it has almost disappeared. I am wondering if maybe it might be good to use K-31 for this yard. I'm thinking maybe it is extra tough and might hang in there better in dry conditions. As for clumping, I assume that if you seed it in thick enough and keep it thick, that should not be an issue.

    So just wanting some comments about Kentucky-31 fescue. It is certainly readily available. Anyone using it? Reasons to use it or avoid it?

  2. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    K-31 is probably the strongest variety out there for drought tolerance and disease tolerance. Unfortunatly it grows very fast, is coarse (wide bladed), will never be as dark a green as other improved varities. But it is a clumping grass, and in drought conditions if it dies out then you will have clumps. I really don't see a reason to use it anymore, there's less expensive blends availible that are close to the cost of K-31 out there.
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    K31 is NOT a grass to use as turfgrass. It is mainly used for ground cover in industrial situations such as along highways and such. The reason it is used there, is the drought and disease tolerance properties as well as its ease of maintenance (doesn't grow fast after peak height and is easy to mow because of its thinness). K31 is an ugly wide bladed grass that does grow in clumps (due to its bunch type growth habit. Also, it is NOT a good shade tolerant grass. See how much grows under trees as opposed to how much grows out in FULL sun.
  4. gardenkeeper88

    gardenkeeper88 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 350

    Definatly stay away from K-31 great for parks and roadways. but like said before never lawn. Go with the newer tall fescues they still work good. They root deeper than the other fine grasses we use here. Lets face it any time u seed the customer has to water it to get it to sprout properly. Once it is established they will have to maintain it with enough water to keep it as nice as THEY want it to look, Irr or sprinklers. You provide the best seed they provide the add. water above mother nature.
  5. shamrock lawn & Tree Serv

    shamrock lawn & Tree Serv LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I totally agree with the last two post
  6. TforTexas

    TforTexas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    Also fescue like all cool season turf will go dormant in the summer, thin out and turn brown without irrigation. Generally they will come back out of dormancy when temps cool and rain picks up in the fall. All fescues (except creeping red) are clump type. They do not send runners and thicken themselves up and will become "clumpy" when allowed to thin out.
    If the customer will not water, the lawn will survive all but the worst heat and drought years but will be thin, clumpy and weedy and will probably need to be overseeded yearly. If thats the quality he wants, fine. But they have to have thier expectations in line. You just cant, not irrigate, and then expect a LCO to provide you with a good looking lawn. That's like letting yourselve go, wiegh over 400 pound, smoke, never exercise, eat all junk food, sit on your arse all day then tell the doctor to make it so you live to 90.
  7. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 341

    thank for the replies
    This guy doesn't really care or understand or want to understand.
    Of course he doesn't want just dirt, but he is not going to do any watering.
    Actually it has held up well until this year, with record drought and heat.
    Usually I get Crossfire II from a local feed store, and will probably just overseed with that. Might set a sprinkler on a timer for germination, or just hope for rain. I just had the idea earlier this year that this might be a place where K-31 would be helpful, but probably not.

    Then there is the new "creeping" tall turf fescue - I think its called Barenbourg - very expensive so far.

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