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Growing Fescue

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by dlite, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. dlite

    dlite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Here is my plight. I moved into a new house in the Raleigh, NC area last winter. The yard had been seeded with straw and I figured I'd give it a chance to see what it did. It basically did nothing so the plan was to begin trying to grow grass this fall. I had some hesitancy as the drought continued but finally by early November took some action. I had gotten a soil test and took their recommendations and put down some lime. I had done that in early October. In early November I had the entire yard aerated (even double aerated in some areas).......lots of plugs. I then put down 18-24-12 (recommended by Lesco guy) and Lesco transition Fescue seed along with the 18-24-12. We've watered it regularly for two weeks, and haven't seen one blade of grass. What I'm hoping is that because we did it so late in the season that we'll be hard pressed to see any growth until possibly spring. I'm hoping this is the case cause I would have expected to see at least some growth after two weeks under normal circumstances. I just hope all our work/money was not for naught. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. IN2MOWN

    IN2MOWN LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,993

    Heres what I would of done.

    Scalp it down to about 1.5 inches tall. Verticut (not areate) one direction. Apply seed. Verticut the other direction. Apply more seed. Put down some starter fert and water twice a day for the first 3 weeks.

    Also since you waited a little longer you will probably see most of your results in the spring.

    Dont worry though. Fescue is easy to grow and only takes a couple weeks to germinate.

    If you have to wait till next year then do that. Just make sure you keep the weeds out till next fall when you go to seed again. And next time start in early september.
  3. Lawnmasters

    Lawnmasters LawnSite Member
    Messages: 180

    Fescue is a cool season grass meaning it grows in the "cool season" best. It's optimum growing temps are from 60 to 85. It needs three things to germinat.
    *seed to soil contact...this doesn't mean throw it on the ground, aerating will work * Moisture, from rain or you watering * Soil temps of 55 for around 5 days

    this gets germination, then the grass will grow well if the temps are in the above ranges, if not it will sit there and wait for good temps. The roots do grow throughout the winter helping the grass's chances for next year. At this point you will have to wait and see what you have by late Feb. If you don't have a good haze of green, aerate and do it again or use a verticutter, slit seeder like mentioned in the post above.

    Good luck on the lawn!
  4. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    dlite, I have to 'third' what IN2MOWN had to say above.

    I'm not a big advocate of soil aeration as being a 'base' for seed to germinate, unless you aerate the holy &~>#+@ out of it in multiple directions. Then you may as well have gone out and gotten a slice seeder and done it the right way!
    (Ideally, in situations like yours, I'd aerate thoroughly, then only after the cores have dried I would have slice-seeded. This increases the seed-to soil contact % dramatically.)

    There's what the (reputable) folks in the seeding biz call the seeding 'no man's land'. And you unfortunately seeded right in the middle of it!

    In Ohio, most fescue people who've been around a while and know what they're doing try to be done by the end of August, beginning of September. Certainly by Sep. 15.
    Then they go on to different projects a while (hopefully) while the new grass is getting watered by someone.
    Then, about right now or shortly after, 'dormant seeding' season begins.
    This is about the time that all chances of natural germination are gone for this year, and that the seed that is sowed can be naturally worked in to the ground by the 'freeze and thaw effects' coming up.
    Dormant seeding's nice in areas that you'll know it'll be tough to get into in the spring because of mucky conditions. You may have to compensate a little extra for potential erosion in places, though.
  5. Sluggo

    Sluggo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    You were late in re-seeding your lawn. Optimal soil temp for fescue seed germination is between 68ºF - 75ºF. Besides, we had one of the worse droughts ever the summer of 2007.

    Here's a link that is one of the best in the country (I use them all the time):

    I live just north of Wake Forest and have a 80% TTTF 20% KBG lawn.:)

    4 very important things to remember in this area for turf type tall fescue:

    1) Do not apply fertilizer to the lawn after March 15.

    2) In summer, water in the early morning only!

    3) Apply 2 applications of fertilizer in the fall. First app. between Sept. 15 - Oct 1. and the second app. around Thanksgiving or when the lawn has stopped growing in fall.

    4) Accept the fact that the fescue will naturally thin during the summer and re-seeding is needed every 2-3 years in the fall to keep a thick turf canopy and weeds at bay.
  6. Sluggo

    Sluggo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    One other thing to remember in this area too:


    Look at the chart on page 33 of the file.
    You can see that spring applied pre-emergent herbicides injure fall seeded fescue.

    Pendimethalin is the most damaging (Halts)
    Team is the second most damaging
    Dimension (dithiopyr) is the 3rd least damaging
    Barricade is the least damaging < 10%

    I use LESCO combo products with fert and Dimension with split applications first this year was on 02/23/08 with 2/3 rates of 5-0-17 5% Fe 0.15% Dim and a 18-0-10 .21% Dim. Each bag covers 10K and I have 15K and was targeting a 0.19% pe-M level. The second app. will be around the last week of may using a 0-0-7 0.15% Dimension NO NITROGEN!!.

    I do this to control the crabgrass and the Japanese stilt grass in the woods around the subdivision and Dimension works very well on this pain...it will smother crabgrass. BTW, I'm just a homeowner and I've learned incorporating extra organic matter when I can afford it in the fall as a top dressing is a big plus with the red clay subsoil.

    Your fert needs to go down now. If the grass did germinate for you and you are starting to see some, then no pre-M (other than siduron) this spring until the lawn has been mowed 4 times to get the roots to develop.

    Siduron is the only crabgrass pre-M you can use now early as not to hurt the grass and it is expensive, but will help you for sure until the 4th mowing. It's about $45/bag at Lowes or HD and is sold in starter fertilizer with crabgrass preventer. It lasts for about 1 month. That would be fine now if you are reseeding or decide to wait until fall. After that siduron only until mid-May.
  7. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    Tf germinate in 5 days?.....lol Try 2 weeks in those temps.
  8. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    Sluggo..Iv'e used all of those pre's almost 20 for years (barricade and Dimension for over 10) and have NEVER had a problem with TF. The info that you read is misguiding. If the seed is very weak or newly germinated...sure you might have a problem with any pre. I have pushed the limits with all of these chem's and they only kill when over applied or in warm weather to very new seed.
  9. Sluggo

    Sluggo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I agree with your comments for the most part, however, the heat & high humidity stress in this area seems to be an additional factor that makes me seriously consider that maybe, even only 'yearlling' grass plants are adversely affected.

    What I mean by that is not enough roots in place to chase the water deep.

    Brown patch is a problem in the sunniest area of the front lawn and has been for years and seems as though the yearlings from overseeding have the most difficulty.

    Yes, I irrigate in the early morning on sprinklers that are on timers. Start around 3:30 am and then I move them before heading to work close to 6:30 am.

    I admit, I'm still learning and each lawn has its quirks and like certain treatment.:usflag:

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