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General Seeding Rates For Fescue Grass

Tall Fescue Seed

Seeding rates for tall fescue lawns are between 5-10 pounds seeded at 1000 square feet and between 220-435 pounds seeded per acre. Pasture seeding rates for tall fescue grass are generally around 15-30 pounds per acre. Please see individual seed products for more accurate seeding rates.

Tall fescue seeds are bigger seed (see picture at right) than many grass seeds, and are easily planted. Tall fescue can be overseeded at the rate of 3-5 pounds per 1000 square feet (Usually 1/2 new lawn rate).

Creeping Red Fescue Seeding: Seeding with red fescue is best done in the fall and is usually seeded with bluegrass or perennial rye grass. A complete lawn of red fescue alone requires approximately 4 lb per 1000 sq. Ft. applied in the spring or fall. When red fescue is used to overseed warm season grasses in the fall upon their dormancy, apply about 5 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. This mixture is used extensively in the Transition zone areas. Red Fescue seeds germinate in about 12-22 days.

Other fine fescue grass varieties such as chewings and hard fescue grass are generally used in lawn mixtures or planted with wildflowers.  Again refer to individual seed products for planting rates on these varieties.

When to Plant Fescue Grass Seed - A Cool Season Grass

Cool season grass such as Fescue, will germinate best when the soil temperatures are between 50° and 65° degrees F. These soil temperatures usually occur when the daytime air temperatures are between 60° and 75° degrees. The fescue grasses, when planted properly, germinate within 10 to 14 days.

Fall is the best time to plant fescue and other cool season grass. Planting in the Fall presents the least risk of planting failure for cool season grass. Plant your cool season grass seed when the fall temperatures reach 75° and are dropping as winter approaches. Alternately the second choice is to plant in spring when spring temperatures have reached 60 ° and are rising in the spring. Planting in summer can occur, but irrigation becomes a critical factor in establishment. High temperatures of summer can cause fescue grass to go dormant so planting during summer is not recommended. Planting when night time temperatures are above 70° should be avoided. For more on fescue grass dormancy and the dangers of frost to new seedlings please see When To Plant Fescue Grass Seed.

Note: You may also seed in late fall if at the same time you use a cover crop such as ryegrass.

PLANTING METHODS? Various Methods To Plant Grass Seed

EasySeed - 1-2-3 Steps To Planting Fescue Grass Seed
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Below you will find links that will carry you to information on planting fescue grass seed for lawns and pasture use.

1-2-3 EasySeed FESCUE Lawns

Seeding Tall Fescue Grass Pastures

Please note that only Tall Fescue is suitable for pasture use for livestock. Important information about tall fescue that is safe for horses and livestock.

Overseed Existing Lawn or Plant Fescue Grass Seed From Scratch

The first question that must be answered is are you overseeding your lawn or "starting from scratch"? A decision must be made to either plant within an existing lawn or to till up your lawn area so that no weeds or grasses are left living in the area to be planted. Of course a new lawn planting will most likely be started with the ideal situation. That is to have tilled soil for the area where you will establish a lawn grass from seed.

Tall Fescue Grass

Why is tilling ideal? Because existing plants that are directly next to (6 inches or closer) of where you are trying to establish other grass plants from seed, provide competition to your seeds by consuming sunlight & plant nutrients. This competition by existing plants means some plants simply won't survive the additional stress imposed by these adult plants. Also, eliminating the existing "old" grasses, means that you will be able to establish the proper mix ratio and variety types for your new cool season lawn.

Many times the purpose is just to improve the existing stand of Fescue. This is a normal practice in a fescue lawn case --- this is done to thicken the density of your turf's sod and to help reduce or eliminate weeds and is called overseeding.

Some improvements can be achieved through cultural grass maintenance practices, but in most cases where the grass is thinned out, you will need to re-seed (overseed) those sparse areas. Fescue normally thins out in plant density over time, and the only way to correct this normal occurrence is to re-seed with smaller amounts of lawn seed each early fall or spring.

Note on the use of straw - Straw (usually wheat straw ideally) is used on newly established / bare soil lawns to both reduce moisture evaporation rates (to achieve better germination) and to prevent washing / erosion of newly planted soil areas. Generally putting straw over EXISTING Fescue lawns that are being re-seeded to increase stand density is not required.

EASYSEED: The 1-2-3 Steps For Planting A Fescue Lawn

First: Decide if you will till the soil (So as to kill all the existing plants by plowing up your site!) or just plant within the existing grass. Also decide on the variety of Fescue grass to plant.

I will TILL my site and start Fresh!

I will NOT TILL my site - I want to overseed my existing lawn.

Not Tilling When Planting Fescue Grass Seed

You are not tilling the soil - and are planting seeds within the existing grass & weeds. This is called overseeding.

OVERSEEDING - Note: Fescue does thin out over time, so overseeding helps to thicken the turf to achieve higher plant density.

(1) Mow your lawn as close as possible and remove the excess clippings with an iron-rake that will also scratch your site soil, preparing a home for the seed.

(2) Next if at all possible AERATE your lawn with a spike aerator. Planting without aerating does not allow good soil contact of your fescue seed. Aerate by traveling first North to South and then East to West (two trips across lawn). Then sow (broadcast) your Fescue seeds on the area to be planted generally in the early fall (Aug - Sept) for your best results. Fescue may also be seeded in the Spring (before May). Some people say they find overseeding both spring and fall works best for them.

However you may also seed in late fall at the same time you use a cover crop such as ryegrass. The fescue seed will start germinating the following spring provided that snow and/or low temperature conditions have protected the seeds until spring germination. Timing is important depending of if you are in a more Northern cool-season area or in the transition zone.

(3) After you have broadcast your seed, you should aerate a third time. This last time helps to provide soil coverage of your seeds.

You may also Roll the area sowed with a hand roller so that the seed that you sowed, which fell into the soil scratches made with the rake, will become firmly packed with the soil. Fescue seed require firm soil contact for best germination. They also need a thin soil covering to germinate (1/4 inch ideal) - They are not likely to germinate when thrown out on top of the ground, unless a mulch covering or top soil is applied. Use the correct rate of seed for Fescue lawns.

(4) Follow your normal water, fertilizing and mowing practices for the area you have planted on a regular basis. That's all! Eventually you will have an improved, more lush and thick Fescue grass lawn. Generally you should water daily after planting until germination occurs, then continue on a more normal cycle. -

Keep in mind that if overseeding a NEW lawn you need to create a good firm seedbed (soil) for your seedlings to grown in. Using a tiller is the best preparatory method. A second method is to use a rake to loosen the soil and make for better germination of your grass seed.

Visit our for more about seeding rates and lawn choices for grasses. For pasture seeding the rate is normally lower. Keep in mind that the seeding rate is purposely higher for lawns so that the higher plant density needed for lush turf grass lawns is achieved.

Tilling To Plant A New Lawn

Planting a new lawn on correctly prepared and tilled soil.

(1) Till the area to be planted so as to provide for a good seed bed (fine, loose soil) with little soil compaction. Early fall is the best time to start this activity for Fescue. The tilling can be done with either a garden roto-tiller or a tractor harrow/tiller (Or even a shovel if you have a good back!). Once the area is properly returned to soil, level the ground by raking or dragging something over the surface until it is smooth and level. Now is the time to remove hills and depressions so that you have a nice smooth lawn.

(2) Plant the seeds. You can use a commercial turf grass planter, slit seeder, or sow the seeds by hand, or just as easy and much preferred, buy a lawn grass seeder. Once your seeds are sowed, rake or drag the seeded area, so that as many of the seeds as possible are lightly covered (1/4 inch is ideal covering). Be sure and use the correct rate for seeding Fescue grass. With new lawns a light covering of straw / hay can be spread over the planted area - This will help germination by reducing water evaporation and provide better conditions for germination.

EROSION CONTROL - Used straw will also help some with erosion issues - Vertical blade aerators can help push some of the straw into the soil to provide better erosion control. OR use a seed mat to cover the planted area and staple the mat in place. Third option in erosion prone areas is to hire a local hydro seeder to spray / plant your erosion areas.

(3) Water the area you have planted daily until germination occurs (unless rainfall occurs). Then water as needed. Apply fertilizer in intervals through the growing season, and practice a regular mowing schedule. Mowing the weeds that will grow in your new lawn area faster than the grass, allows the grass to compete better for scarce nutrients and sunlight. - Mow regular and at the correct height.

Visit our for more about seeding rates and lawn choices for grasses. For pasture seeding the rate is normally lower, around 25 to 30 lbs of tall fescue seed per acre. Please follow the correct planting rates for your particular tall fescue seed and planting situation. Keep in mind that the seeding rate is purposely higher for lawns so that the higher plant density needed for lush turf grass lawns is achieved.

A good final finish to planting a Fescue lawn is to roll your planted lawn area with a hand roller. You can rent these implements from rental stores in your area. This compacts the soil around the seed, creating a more favorable environment for Fescue seed germination. Fescue seed do not germinate well in fluffy soil, so this is an important step. The rolling also smoothes the soil providing for a more level uniform lawn.


Bluegrass seed can be planted using the same basic seeding techniques as for Fescue. Also read about Ryegrass for cool season areas. Both of these grasses are often used in mixtures with Fescue to provide a more quality turf lawn in the Northern lawn areas.

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