Tall fescue is the most widely grown cool-season species in North Carolina. For a cool-season species, tall fescue is tolerant to heat and drought, disease resistant, and persists with minimum care. It has a tendency to clump due to its bunch-type growth habit and may need to be re-seeded each year in areas that exhibit thin growth patterns due to excessive summer stresses. Tall fescue is easily confused with Kentucky bluegrass, annual ryegrass, and perennial ryegrass. However, Kentucky bluegrass has a boat-shaped leaf tip and distinctive light-colored lines on both sides of the midrib. Tall fescue has rolled vernation in the leaf bud and perennial ryegrass has folded vernation. Also, tall fescue has rough leaf blade margins whereas annual and perennial ryegrass have smooth ones. Tall fescue and perennial ryegrass both have non-clasping auricles, whereas annual ryegrass has clasping auricles. The backside of the tall fescue leaf blade is less glossy than that of annual ryegrass.
Delay coring until fall.
Fertilize with 1 pound of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet in February. In absence of soil test results, use a complete (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio.
Water, if needed, to prevent excessive drying. About 1 inch of water per application each week is adequate.
Remove lawn debris (rocks, sticks, and leaves). Mow lawn at 3 inches and remove clipping debris at spring greenup. Mow before grass gets taller than 5 inches. Remember grasscycling and leave clippings on the lawn.
It is not necessary to remove thatch.
Apply broadleaf herbicides as necessary for control of chickweed, henbit, or other weeds.
Follow September-November fertilization guidelines. Fertilize between February 15 and March 15 at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Quick-release sources of nitrogen, such as urea (46-0-0) and ammonium nitrate (34-0-0), should be watered in immediately to prevent foliar burn.
Follow September-November guidelines. Irrigate dormant turf in warm, windy weather to prevent desiccation. Probe the soil to determine dryness.
Follow September-November guidelines.
If worn or thin areas are heavily used in the fall, overseed with a suitable seed mixture.
Do not cultivate at this time.
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leaves rolled in the bud
membranous; collar-like, 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) or less long, very jagged
cool season turf or perennial weed
rudimentary; non-clasping, small, short, hairs on edges
sharp-pointed; deeply ridged above, glossy below, prominent midrib below, edges rough
occasional and short
divided; may be hairy on edges
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