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Tall Fescue

Description

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.

lawn Maintenance for March - May

Aeration

Delay aeration until fall.

Disease Control

If circular patches of brown grass up to several feet in diameter appear, you may have Brown (Large) Patch. Gray Leaf Spot also may be a problem. Control both diseases as necessary with proper fungicides.

Fertilization

DO NOT fertilize tall fescue after March 15.

Insect Control

Check for and control white grubs in April and May.

Irrigation

Tall fescue needs 1 to 1 ¼ inches of water every week, ideally NOT all at once. A dark bluish-gray color, footprinting, and wilted, folded, or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water. Water until the soil is wet to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Use a screwdriver or similar implement to check. Sandy soils require more frequent watering (about ½ inch of water every third day). Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate just until runoff occurs, wait until the water has been absorbed, and begin watering again. Continue until the desired depth or amount is applied. Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce problems later in the summer. Watering between 2 and 8 a.m. decreases the incidence of certain diseases.

Mowing

Mow lawn to 3 inches in height. Mow at least once a week. Mow before grass gets above 5 inches tall. Then practice grasscycling. Grasscycling is simply leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly and can provide up to 25 percent of the lawn's fertilizer needs. If prolonged rain or other factors prevent frequent mowing and clippings are too plentiful to leave on the lawn, they can be collected and used as mulch. Whatever you do, don't bag them! Grass clippings do not belong in landfills.

Thatch Removal

It is generally not necessary to remove thatch.

Weed Control

Apply preemergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail. Apply by the time the dogwoods are in bloom.

athletic Maintenance for March - May

Fertilization

If the field was not fertilized in February, fertilize before March 15 at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Water in quick-release sources of nitrogen, such as urea (46-0-0) and ammonium nitrate (34-0-0), to prevent foliar burn.

Irrigation

Follow September-November guidelines.

Mowing

Follow September-November guidelines.

Soil Cultivation

Do not cultivate soil when the temperature is consistently higher than 80°F.

Weed Control

Apply preemergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail around the time forsythia bushes are in bloom. If the area was reseeded in the spring, use only Tupersan (siduron).

Application Rates for Preemergence Herbicides
ProductAmount per acre
benefin(Balan 2.5G)120 pounds
benefin + trifluralin (Team Pro 0.86G)174 to 349 pounds
dithiopyr(Dimension 1EC)2 quarts
oxadiazon(Ronstar 2G)100 to 150 pounds
Pendimethalin(Weedgrass Control 60WP)5 pounds
(Pre-M 60WP)5 pounds
(Pendulum 60WDG)5 pounds
(Pendulum 3.3 EC)7.3 pints
prodiamine(Barricade 65WG)0.75 to 1.5 pounds
(Regal Kade 0.5WG)64 to 300 pounds
Siduron (Tupersan 50WP)20 pounds*
* Use 8 pounds when seeding tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass

Presentations

Publications

Species Data

Seedhead/Flower

terminal panicle

seedhead2
seedhead2
seedhead2
Vernation type

leaves rolled in the bud

dscn0904
dscn0904
dscn0904
dscn0907
dscn0907
dscn0907
Ligule Type

membranous; collar-like, 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) or less long, very jagged

dscn0917
dscn0917
dscn0917
Growth Season/Life Cycle

cool season turf or perennial weed

Auricle type

rudimentary; non-clasping, small, short, hairs on edges

auricles2
auricles2
auricles2
dscn0917
dscn0917
dscn0917
dscn0930
dscn0930
dscn0930
Leaf blade tip shape

sharp-pointed; deeply ridged above, glossy below, prominent midrib below, edges rough

leafblade
leafblade
leafblade
Stolon Presence

absent

Rhizome Presence

occasional and short

Collar Type

divided; may be hairy on edges

collar
collar
collar
Sheath Margin

open

sheathmargin
sheathmargin
sheathmargin

Sports Turf App

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