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Darrell Blackwelder column: Fall is the best time for cool-season fescue

Fall is the best time of the year to seed cool-season fescue lawns. This narrow time frame promotes optimum root growth and development for this type of grass.

Fescue is the predominant grass species grown in the Piedmont. Commercial seed companies provide over 50 different cultivars of turf type fescues for more than an ample selection. Most turf varieties used in our area are produced in Oregon on large commercial turf farms. Retail outlets and garden centers can only carry 4-5 different cultivars. These blends grow well proven through extensive university research. Some garden centers will also custom designed blends for homeowners or commercial lawn care companies.

Fescue seed

It’s important to plant a blend of different turf type fescues each year. Research has proven a blend of three or more types of turf type fescues adapt best to our somewhat unusual growing conditions. Avoid planting turf blends that contain ryegrass seed. Annual and perennial ryegrass are very aggressive and weakens fescue stands throughout the growing season.

Fescue seed sown at 5-7 pounds per 1,000 square feet or about 220 pounds per acre does well in our climate. Apply half the recommended amount to a given area, and then apply the remainder at a right angle to the previous application in an effort to guarantee thorough coverage. Homeowners should use about half the normal seeding rate (3-4 pounds per 1,000 square feet) when over-seeding thin or bare areas. Go to  https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns for more detailed information on fescue lawns.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .

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