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Plant fescue now for a healthy spring lawn
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Fall is the best time to plant a fescue lawn. The establishment process fescue can be divided into three areas. The first, soil preparation; the second involves proper seeding; and the third includes care and maintenance.



From mid-September until late October is excellent for planting. Earlier plantings undergo excessive heat stress and later plantings may not become fully established prior to winter. Early spring seeding is generally not recommended because the plant does not have time to develop the deep root system needed to survive the hot and dry summer.


Soil preparation



The key to successful establishment and long-term survival of tall fescue is proper soil preparation. First, remove all debris such as rocks and tree stumps.



Then add any amendments, such as topsoil for soil improvement and till thoroughly into the existing soil. Since most soil in our area is red clay, adding organic matter such as topsoil is very important.



Next, till the starter fertilizer and lime 4 to 6 inches into the soil prior to planting. 



Apply enough fertilizer to supply 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (Example would be 10 pounds of 10-10-10 per 1,000 square feet)  Finally, level the surface and slope the soil away from the house. 






For best results, always use certified seed, which is identified by a blue tag. Such seed has been tested and the information on the label is assured by law. Spread 5 to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet using a spreader.  Divide the seed into two equal parts and spread half in one direction and the other half at a right angle to the first direction. 



After seeding, lightly rake the area to cover the seed to a depth of about 1/4 inch.



Applying straw mulch is beneficial, especially on slopes, because it helps to prevent erosion and retain moisture for rapid germination. 


Care and maintenance



Water lightly and frequently to prevent surface drying. As always, it is best to water in early morning to reduce the possibility of disease. 



Begin mowing at a height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches when the seedlings reach a height of 2 to 2-1/2 inches. Do not mow turf grass when it is wet, especially young seedlings.



If you have additional questions about your lawn, contact the Dawson County Extension Office at (706) 265-2442.



Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent.