Wednesday, September 20, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Fall is the Best Time to Reseed Fescue

Reseeding Fescue in the Fall
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
September 19, 2017
Q: My fescue thinned out during the summer. How should I reseed it and when is the best time? SJ
A: 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 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 the spring and the fall, but fall is the best time to re-seed as this gives the turf more time 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 three different types of seed, rather than a single cultivar. Doing this not only increases your likelihood of success, but also 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 pounds per 1,000 square feet when reseeding and a rate of 6-8 pounds per 1,000 square feet 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.
Garden tips

·        Watch for fall specials at garden centers and nurseries because fall is a great time for planting many ornamentals. Choose spring-flowering bulbs as soon as available.
·        Fertilize established fescue lawns with one pound of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet now and again in November. Do not fertilize Bermuda or zoysia lawns until next spring. Late fertilization of these warm-season grasses may promote disease.
·        Winter broadleaf weeds like dandelion will begin to emerge in late September, which is also the best time to control them with a 2, 4-D type herbicide.
·        September and early October is garlic-planting time with an aim for harvest in June of next year. There are many varieties from which to choose. OSU suggests German Red, Inchilium Red, Silverskin and Spanish Roja for varieties, which do well in our area.


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