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Time to plant fescue

POSTED: September 7, 2011 4:00 a.m.

The summer of 2011 has been hard on lawns. If you need to plant, or in many cases replant your fescue lawn, mid- September through October is excellent. With cooler nights, milder days and rain, fescue seeds will germinate quickly.

For many years the best known fescue has been Kentucky 31. It is durable and still used as a pasture grass. As a lawn grass Kentucky 31 tends to be coarse and clumpy unless seeded thickly and well-tended.

However, Kentucky 31 takes wear well and is not highly subject to disease or pest damage.

For lawn use in recent years many people have begun to replace Kentucky 31 with a multitude of varieties generally known as turf type fescue.

These are less coarse and clumpy than Kentucky 31, but still have good disease and pest resistance. The turf type fescue has a fine leaf which gives the lawn a more dense appearance.

There are many different types of turf type fescues on the market and I will not attempt to recommend one over another.

Many people feel that the best approach to seeding a fescue lawn is to blend three or more different varieties. Blends are sometimes more readily available than individual varieties. Remember 80 percent of the success of a lawn is not the variety but the management before and after planting.

The planting rate of fescue lawns is 6 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If possible, the soil should be tilled or at least aerated in order to ensure the seed has good contact with the seed bed.

The amount of lime and fertilizer needed can be determined by a soil test. Taking a soil sample is simple, and your local extension office will mail it to the lab for testing. A pint container of soil is needed for testing. Without a soil sample for fescue lawns a general rule of planting is 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet. (This rate is only if lime has not been applied in recent years.)

The fertilizer 10-10-10 at a rate of 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet will promote root growth.

My best recommendation, however, is to let the university conduct a soil test. By having the test results, it can recommend what your lawn needs.

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

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