Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Overseeding Fescue Lawns This Fall


Fall is the ideal time to overseed fescue lawns, and Crabapple LandscapExperts know which Fescue varieties do best in metro-Atlanta and how to get maximum germination and growth for a velvety turf on the properties we maintain. Overseeding involves spreading fresh grass seed over an existing lawn that typically has bare patches, to improve the quality of the turf. The key to this important step in maintaining quality turf is knowing how to overseed correctly. 

Fescue is a popular choice for lawns becaues it maintains its green color throughout winter. Unlike warm-season Bermudagrass or Zoysia lawns, Fescue does not go dormant but experiences its best growth during the cool months of fall, winter and spring. During the hot summer months Fescue lawns may experience heat stress. 

Reseeding in the Fall has many advantages:
  •            Soils remain warm from summer, causing fescue seeds to germinate rapidly 
  •       The late summer drought is broken by regular autumn rains 
  •       Moist soils encourage germination and root growth of young Fescue plants 
  •      Cooler temperatures promote good growth of Fescue 
  •      Overseeding in the fall reduces competition from weeds  
  •      New plants have 3-4 months to develop deeper roots and become established before cold weather 
  •      Fall-established lawns can more easily handle drought next spring

Understanding grass growth  
Most Fescues are bunch type grasses, growing in clumps rather than sending out horizontal runners (called rhizomes) like Bermuda. The grass plant has a crown at the center, with roots growing down and blades of grass growing up. Grass plants grow side shoots (called tillers) that are formed around the crown. Since each blade of grass has a short lifespan (about 6 weeks) new tillers must continually develop to keep a lawn looking good. 

As a lawn ages, the individual grass plants get older and the growth of new tillers decreases. Therefore, the best way to ensure a healthy, thick lawn is to ensure the grass is young (Nick Christians, PhD, Iowa State U). Thus the practice of overseeding is the most efficient and easiest way of keeping lawns young.


Crabapple LandscapExperts prepare Fescue lawns for overseeding by core aerating the soils first. See our March 22 Blog for detailed information and a video on the topic of Core Aeration. Watch the quick video on YouTube about core aeration for warm season grasses, which also applies to fescue lawns in the fall.   


Schedule overseeding for the properties you manage with your Crabapple LandscapExpert Rep this fall. 

Photos courtesy Geri Laufer, University of Vermont Extension Service, lft Seed Company 

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