Red Fescue Grass

Red fescue grass is one of the most versatile, hardy turf grasses for northern, cool climates.  It is drought tolerant, shade tolerant, and grows in poor soils.  This grass type grows best under challenging conditions, which makes it a perfect choice for many neighborhood lawns.  For people looking to add a hardy grass species to a blended lawn, red fescue is a great choice.

Characteristics of Red Fescue Grass

The red fescue grass species is native to North America.  It is a clumping grass, which forms a turf as each clump grows larger and larger.  Most red fescues used for lawns are actually called "creeping red fescue" and are cultivars, varieties or hybrids that have been crossed with other fescues that form more of a running habit, sending out stolons, or above ground stems.  This makes it a better turf grass, as it provides coverage faster from seeds.  The grass blade is very fine and deep green in color.  It is one of the finest textured of all turf grasses.


These grasses do best in cooler, dry, northern climates.  They do not like overly rich or fertile soils.  In warmer, southern areas, red fescue can be used to overseed during the cooler winter months.  This turf grows equally well in the sun or shade, including dry shade.  There are few grasses that grow well in dry shade, making this grass a help to homeowners and landscapers, alike.

Seasonal Care

This grass type grows best when mowed at the height of three to four inches.  For people interested in having a no-mow lawn, red fescue is a great choice.  It will grow to a height of 8-12 inches if left to grow.  It requires very little supplementary water or fertilizer, which makes it an environmentally friendly lawn grass type.  In fact, it is best to not fertilize this type of grass with anything other than a light top-dressing of compost, as over-fertilizing can actually kill the grass.  Red fescue will go dormant during hot weather.

Turf Blends

Because of its versatility, this type of grass is also good to blend with other grass seeds to create a turf mix.  It is often mixed with bluegrass and ryegrass.  Because of the clumping habit of the straight species, it is best to plant a cultivar of red fescue grass.  These are the most commonly available and popular cultivars are: Lustrous, Pernille, Evergreen, and Boreal. Red fescues are a good choice for homeowners in cool northern climates.
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