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Planting Fescue Grass Seed Fescue - Site Preparation

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Fescue GrassThe preparation for any seed planting starts with

  • A soil test and adding the ground amendments (nutrients) as necessary.
  • Removal of all obstacles and fully cultivating the site and smoothing the soil back down. The ground should be as level as possible without small hills or depressions left on the surface.
  • Pre-packing the soil before seeding will take care of this problem. This assures an even lawn-mowing surface and good seed to soil contact to get the most moisture transferred to the seeds.

The best planting season for fescue grass falls between Sept. 15 through Nov. 1. in most of the fescue adapted areas. Planting early in the fall allows for more time for seedlings to establish before the hot summer weather sets in the following summer. Fescue grass can best handle summers when planted in the fall and watered infrequently but deeply when established.

The seeding of fescue lawns or pastures is accomplished by using a broadcast spreader for large areas and a smaller seeder when reseeding smaller areas. Seeders that broadcast and pack at the same time are the best, as they save a lot of time planting seed into the bare soil of large areas. Straw is often used to cover seeded areas to preserve moisture and reduce erosion / washing of soil areas.

Keeping the seedbed moist through the germination period, which is at least 10-14 days during the seedling stage is an important stage for good root development and insures survival of the hot summers when planted in the lower transitional area.

A mix of Fescue and other grass varieties such as Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass works better in some areas than just planting fescue grass seed alone.


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Preliminaries To Planting Fescue Grass

STEP 1- Make sure that Fescue Grass is suited for the area location, weather and soil type that you have. Also make sure before you plant that it is the type of grass you want.

See our www.lawngrasses.com web site for help in determining and selecting the best grass for your particular lawn. Remember that seeding takes time to establish a lawn and perhaps some areas might be more suitable sodded?

STEP 2- Measure and lay out your site - record the square feet lawn area that you have. Different lawn grasses handle different aspects of your site in unique ways. What may be a suitable site for some grasses is not for others. Allow for other types of shrubs and ground covers for use in the areas that are not suitable.

STEP 3- Pull soil samples and have a qualified laboratory test your soil for nutrients and deficiencies. Then you will be able to fertilize correctly and make other soil adjustments as needed. You can apply the adjustments before tilling so as to incorporate them uniformly. Fertilizers are best applied after tilling but before dragging / raking the soil areas level. You can also apply the fertilizers immediately after planting to Fescue grass lawn areas you have seeded. Do not over-fertilize if planting in the fall as nitrogen can make Fescue more winter kill susceptible.

Preparing The Ground For Seed and Sod

STEP 4- Your next step is to prepare your site for your seed. We are going to assume that you will be "killing" off your existing grass and/or weeds. If you need to overseed see the section on overseeding with fescue seed in our 1-2-3 Easyseed.

STEP 5- There are various methods you can use to "kill" off your current lawn. One method is to kill the existing grass with herbicides. Note that this method has been found to be harmful to soil, humans, animals and the environment and you still have to till the area, often multiple times.

Alternative methods To "kill" existing lawns that are effective:

  • Soil Solarization - This is where you cover the area to be planted with clear plastic and let the sun bake the underlying grass and weeds to death for a few weeks before tilling. This method also kills pathogens, weed seed, nematodes and other pests in the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Beneficial soil organisms are able to either survive solarization or recolonize the soil very quickly afterwards. Step by step instructions about this very effective technique from the University of California Agriculture Department.
  • Cardboard - Cover the area you wish to kill existing vegetation with overlapping pieces of cardboard. Add mulch, topsoil according to what you plan to plant.
  • Vinegar - White distilled or pickling vinegar has been found to be an effective weed killer that does not harm the soil or environment. Just be careful that you spray only the plants or grass you want to kill. then till the area removing all debri.
  • Another method is to just tiller (rotor-till) the existing weeds and grasses without killing the plants with chemicals.

STEP 6- Most likely you will need to tiller the lawn at least two times so as to incorporate the soil and old plant material uniformly. A good plan is to till the lawn and then wait a week before tilling a second time. This results in more "kill" of current plants in your lawn area.Smoothing The Soil By Dragging

STEP 7- After tilling the lawn ... you need to drag and level the surface to provide for a clean, smooth and level surface to plant within. Properly leveling your lawn now will help to avoid the lawn being scalped by your mower. You can use a rake to do this step or for bigger areas some sort of heavy drag like device drug behind a tractor or riding lawn mower can achieve similar results. Break up clods of dirt to create a fine seedbed in the top 3 inches of soil.

STEP 8 - READY TO SEED
Now that your lawn surface is ready to seed... continue on to our
1-2-3 EasySeed steps for HOW-TO's on seeding your lawn. Or visit www.sodding.com for sodded lawns.

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