Re-Seeding Fescue Lawns

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 3:33 PM

Tulsa is located right between the ideal climates for growing turfgrass. Warm season grasses do much better south of here and cool season grasses do better north of here. As you can imagine, this complicates our turf choices and how we care for those grasses.

Fescue is a good choice for areas of your landscape that are shaded although no grass can grow without any sun. Fescue thrives in spring and fall, stays green in winter, but struggles with our Oklahoma summers. As a result, most of us need to re-seed our fescue each year to keep a healthy thick turf.

Cool season grasses, like fescue, germinate best when the soil temperature is in the 70-degree range. This happens in both the spring and the fall, but fall is the best time to re-seed as this gives the turf fall, winter, and spring to develop a healthy root system. The last half of September through the first half of October usually gives us the soil temperatures we need.

For best results, we recommend purchasing seed with a blend of at least 3 different types of seed rather that a single cultivar. Doing this not only increases your likelihood of success, but by combining grasses, the incidence of disease is typically reduced, as each type tends to mask the weaknesses of the others.

It is also a good idea to prepare your soil rather than just sprinkle seed on the ground. The upper layer of soil can develop a crust so seeds dropped on this hard surface will either blow or wash away before they have a chance to germinate. Breaking up the soil can be done with a rake or by perhaps renting a tiller or verticutter for difficult situations.

Seed should be sown evenly with either a rotary or drop spreader. A drop spreader gives you more control over where your seed goes but either will work. Fescue seed should be applied at a rate of 3-6 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. when reseeding and a rate of 6-8 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. when seeding a new lawn.

The seeds must have water to germinate, which may mean watering twice a day for a few minutes for the first 2-3 weeks. Once the seedlings are 1-2 inches tall, you can begin watering less frequently and for longer periods.

Fertilization will also be necessary, and we recommend getting a soil test from the OSU Extension so that you will know exactly which nutrients your soil requires for best performance.

We have quite a bit of information at our Diagnostic Center and on our website, to help you maintain your new and existing turf. Ask for fact sheet HLA-6419.

You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at