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Fescue Grass - Adaptation
Areas of Use for Types of Fescue Grass

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Fescue Grass Adaptation - USA

Fescue grass varieties grow well in most low to medium fertility soils in the cool season areas and are the best cool season grasses for transition area lawns and pastures.

Tall fescues are adapted for shadier sites and are accepted and used as companion seeds in lawn mixes. Tall Fescue Grass will not dominate the existing grass growth thus its value in a mixture of grasses.

Tall & Fine Fescue USA Planting Map

Note: Planting Tall Fescue in Northern colder states with temps below 10 degrees can result in winter kill on Tall Fescue. Map above includes both the fine and tall fescues growing range.

Most of the Fescue grass varieties are best adapted to the transitional zone that extends from the upper south into the lower parts of Canada. The soil range of the fescues species varieties are practically all the soils except the heaviest clays. From tall fescue to sheep's fescue the diversity of soil adaptability is one of the largest for lawn grasses. The temperatures are extended for a cool season grass from the upper south's hot weather to the mountains colder weather. The best adaptation of the fescues as a whole is the shade tolerance of the species group.

This adaptation alone makes fescues one of the most used grasses in lawns and mixtures of every variety. Many cool season grasses cannot take the shade and need the extended heat to perform the best. The warm season grasses used in the more temperate areas need the open sun for the longest period of time and don't do as well in the shade. This leaves a large area to be covered by a grass that can hold it's own in these situations and fescues fit the description of a grass that can fill that gap.

Fescues are adapted to lower maintenance than some of the other grasses and require less fertilizer and mowing. Fescues prefer water but are drought tolerant when forced to be. Although drought tolerant, excessive summer heat is one of the biggest factors in the thinning of the lawn and makes reseeding of tall fescue lawns sometimes a yearly event. Dwarf "improved" turf-type varieties of tall fescue have been developed over the years to withstand closer mowing and to provide a more even lawn appearance and extend the areas of lawn use and still retain the deep root system that makes this grass species drought tolerant.

Uses & Adaptation Areas For The Various Fescue Grass Types

Tall Fescue Grass is adapted to the whole of the transitional area of the USA and is the most dominant of the Fescue family. Tall fescue is adapted for a range of soils and weather conditions from very cool to very warm. The adaptability of the tall fescue in shade tolerance leads this grass to be included in mixes of grass that don't tolerate shadier lawns.

Some varieties of Tall Fescue Grass, that are safe for grazing, have been developed for use in cattle and horse pastures for grazing...read more here


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Tall Fescue Grass is adapted for the use of athletic fields, pastures and used in many variety mixes of fescues. This fescue also likes water but is adapted more for the hot, dry season areas by its ability to go into dormancy and return if enough water is applied to keep it living.

Chewings Fescue Grass is known for the best non-aggressive tendencies and is highly desirable in mixtures of all the cool season grasses particularly perennial rye grass. Chewings fescue adapts the best in regions where the summers are cooler. This is the one fescue that is most like the other cool season grass varieties. This fescue is adapted to form a fine lawn cover on its own in the cool season grass zone and not the temperate zone. Chewings is adapted to the sandier and lower fertility soils and grows a shorter version of the bunching tall fescue. Adapted for the shadier and more drought prone conditions than the other grasses in mixes except in the mixtures or blending of other fescues. Chewings is also adapted can be mown lower than the tall fescues.

Creeping Red Fescue

Creeping Red Fescue Grass is adapted for less mowing and higher shade adaptability than most other grasses. This fescue is slower growing and adapted for more utility type lawns. The shade tolerance level for the red fescue makes this fescue another of the grass seeds that can be used with great success in mixtures of cool season grasses such as the Kentucky bluegrass.

When used in the bluegrass stand the percentage of red fescue is at least 20% and can be used in overseeding at higher percentages in shady areas that the bluegrass doesn't grow. Creeping red fescue is adapted to medium wear/traffic and has a use in pure stands. Creeping red fescue is also adapted to be left in the un-mown length for a "meadow" coverage as seen in this picture to the left here.

Hard Fescue Grass is adapted to the hardiest of areas where many other grasses will not survive. This is indeed the most drought tolerant of the fescue species and can live in the poorest of soils.

Hard fescue is one of the few salt tolerant cool season grasses. The root system, although not as deep as the tall fescue, is very efficient in taking up the most moisture from the air as possible. This fescue is adapted for the hills and mountainsides where other grasses may not grow and is adapted to areas of low or no maintenance and soils of salinity. Hard fescue is often used in fine fescue seed blends such as Tradition Fine Fescue Blend (Mix) which contains improved varieties of hard, chewings, blue, and creeping red fescue grass seed.

Predator Hard Fescue Grass - Predator hard fescue is an endophyte enhanced turf grass that requires less irrigation frequency than bluegrass, ryegrass and other fine fescues. Predator has increased disease and wear tolerance, improved resistance to Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, and Leaf Spot with excellent resistance to Chinch Bugs and Aphids. Predator Hard Fescue Grass is a fine fescue that has a dark green color and moderately fine leaf texture with a reduced vertical growth rate.

Tall Fescue Grass As Forage For Livestock & Horse Pastures

PASTURES - ADAPTATION: Tall Fescue is a natural cool season pasture forage. Tall fescue is one of the most adaptive of the cool season grass forages in the world. Covering about two thirds of the United States it is adapted to a variety of soil conditions such acid, alkaline, saline soils, flooded and poorly drained sites, even clay or Flatwoods soils that are preferably moist. Tall fescue is also adapted to a variety of weather conditions from cold to the warmer areas of the southern transition area.

Improved Forage Varieties: There are now available exciting newer improved forage Tall Fescues that have NO toxicity to cattle and horses thus allowing for more gain and less digestive problems. MaxQ tall fescue for forage and Endophyte Free tall fescues are two examples that you may read more on by following the links provided. These newer varieties are also selected on their ability to provide an increase in total production and less susceptible to diseases.

Tolerant of harsh conditions and fairly drought resistant in periods of extreme dryness fescue pastures are adapted to go into a dormant stage to survive. Tall fescue is extremely adapted for high productivity in cool, humid areas if not grown below the temperate (transition zone). Fescue is also adaptive as a companion crop with clover or alfalfa and other forage grasses.

Sheep's Fescue

Sheep's Fescue is the least used, as far as lawn and pasture use go, in the fine fescue family and grows in some of the poorer soils and roughest conditions. It is primarily used in erosion control situations, planted with wildflowers and naturalized settings.

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