When to Plant Fescue – Planting Guide 2024

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There are many types of grass seed and finding one that works in your particular climate is key. Fescue grass is perfect if you live in an area with colder temperatures, drought conditions, or simply get a lot of use out of your lawn.

When to plant fescue: Plant your fescue grass seed in the fall. Early fall is best as the temperatures will start to cool off but the ground will still be workable. Make sure you water the grass seed and you can add a thin layer of soil to help the roots take hold. Once your fescue grass is 4 inches tall, you can mow it for the first time. However, don’t mow too short. Fescue grass will overwinter just fine as it prefers cold temperatures. You can water it in the summer to prevent brown patches but the deep roots of fescue mean that it is fairly drought tolerant.

Planting Fescue in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

Fescue grass is primarily planted in the northern regions of the United States and most of Canada. It does well in colder climates and a tropical climate is not the best area for it.

Dry Climate

Due to its drought resistance, a dry climate is great for fescue. Just note that it does need some water, so be prepared to hand-water if you are in a severe drought.

Temperate Climate

A temperate climate is good to grow fescue. The milder temperatures mean it will grow well and you probably won’t have to worry too much about water in the summer.

Continental Climate

One of the ideal places for fescue is a continental climate. It can withstand colder temperatures. However, if you have hotter summers, you will need to water more frequently to avoid brown patches on your lawn.

Polar Climate

A polar climate may be able to support a fescue lawn. However, while this type of grass seed is meant for colder climates, a polar climate may do well with grass alternatives as there can be too much maintenance involved.

Benefits and Pitfalls of Fescue

Choosing the type of grass for your lawn can be quite complicated. While fescue may not be the most traditional choice there are many benefits to planting it. However, there are a few negatives to be aware of.

Great for heavy use

If you have a lot of children in your home, you need a yard that will withstand all the jumping, walking, and playing. Fescue is very strong and will withstand plenty of wear and tear.

No winter maintenance

As you go about your grass seed journey, you will quickly realize that some grass is better suited to areas than others. Fescue is perfect for colder regions and you don’t have to do anything to winterize it.

No dethatching

With some grass varieties, you will need to go through the process of dethatching, which is when you remove accumulated organic matter. However, with fescue, you don’t have to worry about this labor-inducive procedure.

Overseeding is often necessary

Fescue is often used in colder areas and if you use it where you have warmer summers, you may need to over-seed your grass. This is where you lay down a thin layer of soil and then add extra seeds to fill in any patches.

Brown patches can develop

Again, this is primarily a concern if you live in an area with warmer summers. If you don’t regularly water in the summer, or you go through a very hot spell, your fescue can turn brown in the summer.

Choosing Fescue Seeds

Tall Fescue Grass

Perfect for high-traffic areas, such as baseball fields, this variety is very durable and can withstand sun and shade. Its roots are quite deep, which means it can tolerate long periods without water.

Hard Fescue Grass

This variety is often used in blends as it doesn’t require as much maintenance and mowing as other grass varieties. It is often used on golf courses and is pretty hardy.

Sheep Fescue Grass

No, you don’t need to own sheep for this variety. It is cool-season grass and will work well to stop soil erosion.

How to Plant Fescue Seeds  


The best time to plant fescue grass seed is in early fall. The cooler temperatures and rainfall will help the seed settle into the soil nicely.

Prepare the soil

If you are starting with a blank field, you will first want to make sure that the soil is of good quality. You can add fertilizer to the soil or organic matter as grass needs to be fed a few times a year.

Preparing the soil also ensures making it nice and level. The more work you do with your soil before planting, the less maintenance you will have to worry about after planting.

Use a spreader

For even distribution of your fescue seed, it is recommended to use a seed spreader. If you don’t have one, you can rent one from most local home improvement stores.

Try to run the seed spreader lengthwise and then run the spreader perpendicularly. This will ensure the seed is nice and even.

While grass seed doesn’t need to be covered with soil, you can use a rake to lightly cover the seed. Just make sure it is only a quarter-inch thick.


Give the grass seed time to settle in and grow. If you have children or pets, you may want to add a temporary fence to discourage anyone from walking on it.

Once the grass starts to sprout, you should still wait before walking on it. While fescue is quite hardy once it grows, in its first few days it can be quite delicate.

Finally, wait until the grass is 4 inches tall before you first mow it. This will give it plenty of time to establish its roots so that it is nice and strong.

How to Water Fescue

After planting your fescue, you should ensure the seeds are nice and wet. Grass seeds need moisture to grow and if they dry out before germinating, they might never grow.

After your fescue does grow, you can then sit back and enjoy your new yard. During fall, winter, and spring, you most likely won’t have to water as the grass is quite drought-tolerant.

However, if you want to have a lush, green yard in the summer, then you will need to water. Try to water for at least 30 minutes twice a week as fescue roots are deep.

The morning is the best time to water your grass. If you aren’t up early enough, consider installing an automatic sprinkler system to do the work for you.

How to Grow Fescue


After you plant your fescue grass, try to leave it alone for a few months to allow it to grow. Wait until it is about 4 inches tall before your first mowing.

Fescue grass is primarily planted in areas that warrant taller grass, so keep this in mind. When mowing, only cut it down to 3 inches in height.

Depending on your climate, hours of sun, and water schedule, fescue grass should normally be mowed once a week. This will promote growth and help it spread out and grow thicker.


One of the benefits of fescue grass is that it is very thick so weeds don’t have a chance to grow. The thicker the grass, the fewer bare patches, which means there is no space for weeds to settle.

However, during warmer summer months, fescue grass can die back in areas, which can lead to the growth of weeds. Stay vigilant by removing weeds as they pop up. While you can add weed killer to your lawn, this can interfere with bees and other beneficial pollinators.


Overall, fescue is drought-tolerant, which is why so many people are turning to this type of grass. The deep roots of the grass allow it to reach into the soil to get its water intake.

During the summer, however, you should water your fescue grass to prevent brown patches from developing. Watering in the morning is the best time.


Large swaths of grass will benefit from aerating as it will break up the soil and allow the grassroots to breathe. Aerate in the fall or spring for best results.


A fertilizer that is high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus will have the best benefits for fescue grass. Try to use a slow-release fertilizer so that the nutrients will last for a while.

While you may be tempted to add extra fertilizer, this will cause your fescue grass to grow too quickly, which only means more mowing on your part.

How long does fescue take to grow?

Fescue grass will grow in just a few days, up to a week, after planting. Give it water in the first week and let it grow for a few weeks before you first mow it.


Those living in colder climates will appreciate the hardiness of fescue grass. It is also drought-tolerant and does not need a lot of maintenance to result in a gorgeous, green yard.

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