Fescue has always been popular as shadow grass, but within the genus Festuca There are over 300 different types of grass with many different uses and benefits that go well beyond shade tolerance. The research into developing better fescue is incredible, with new strains bred for disease tolerance, drought and heat resistance, and even insect resistance. Improved fescue grasses are capable of creating lawns as beautiful as any other grass species, with the benefit of shade tolerance, low entrance requirements, and the ability to survive farther south than their cool season contemporaries.
Fine fescue grass
Fine fescue are a subgroup of fescue, which differ in their narrow, fine leaf blades. Most fescue fescue suitable for lawns are noble fescue; These include crawling red fescue, thimble fescue, hard fescue and sheep fescue. Shade grass mixtures often contain a mixture of several fine fescue species, but can also thrive in sunny, hot locations. Fine fescue can serve as a regular, frequently mowed lawn, but are also attractive when left uncut to create a dune effect – a real, easy-to-maintain lawn.
Fescue fescue (TTT fescue) has gained popularity as turf grass. Improved varieties look and grow like other popular turf grasses, with the added benefit of being heat and drought tolerant. Fescue fescue have a wider leaf blade than fescue and are often used in seed mixes where a shade-loving, slow-growing or drought-resistant lawn is desired. High fescue lawns are known to only need to be mowed once a month and require much less water and nutrients to thrive than traditional turf grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.
A lawn that is mostly planted with grass-like fescue not only looks good, it can also withstand heat and drought. It offers homeowners an easy-to-maintain lawn with little effort. Not many types of grass can meet this requirement.
Fescue is one of the rare lawn grasses that can harbor endophytes – a type of fungus that lives in symbiosis with the plant. The endophytes do not harm the grass; Instead, their presence has been shown to be beneficial for lawn health. The presence of endophytes enables the grass to better withstand stresses such as heat and drought, and provides an element of insect and mammal resistance.
Endophytes are naturally occurring in some cases, but grass seeds can also be inoculated after harvest. This is a safe, natural way to provide another level of defense against disease, pests, and other plant stressors. Endophyte-inoculated seeds must be stored in a cool, dry environment or the benefits will be reduced. Therefore, it is important to order seeds from a reputable source with fresh inventory.
What are plant stressors?
Plant stressors vary by species; some plants can tolerate certain environments while others can lose vitality and even die. Common stressors are high heat, freezing temperatures, drought, both high and low humidity, poorly draining soil, excess salt in the soil, pollution, pests and diseases.
Benefits of fescue
Fine fescue release an amino acid called meta-tyrosine through the roots and into the soil. This acid acts as a built-in herbicide. When the amino acid is ingested by the roots of competing plants such as budding crabgrass and broad-leaved weed seedlings, they die or suffer stunted growth, giving the fescue a chance to overgrow the weeds.
Other desirable properties of fescue grasses include a moderately fast germination rate (albeit rather slow to fully establish), a fine leaf structure with a high density of foliage, the ability to thrive in poor soil conditions (rocky, loamy, or sandy), and a lower one Nitrogen content requirement. Fescue rests with excessive continuous heat without additional watering. The recovery from the resting phase takes place after rain and cooler temperatures.
Sheep fescue and blue fescue are ideal for uncut, naturalized environments, and blue fescue is often used as a landscape feature on its own. They are hardy and easy to care for in many conditions. The slender crawling red fescue is known for its salt tolerance and makes great roadside grass.
New fescue varieties are constantly coming onto the market that improve the innate resilience and desirable properties of fescue. As with endophyte-inoculated seeds, retailers may not always sell the best strains available, so do your research and buy from a reliable source.