Low Maintenance Landscaping: Fine Fescue

For homeowners that maintain their own properties, low maintenance = good! Fine fescue is a terrific turfgrass variety if you are looking for a beautiful lawn for less work.

My first experience with fine fescue was in 2015, my first year at the University of Maryland. I took a Turfgrass Management course. Fine fescue was good, but the knowledge quickly slipped to the back burner. In 2018, I was reminded about the awesome qualities fine fescue has to offer while I was at the University of Maryland Turfgrass Conference.

Fine fescue is a cool season grass that requires very little care. There are three types of fine fescues, chewings fescue, red fescue and hard fescue. Each variety brings specific traits to the table.

Red fescue does well in drought prone, acidic soils. Chewings fescue grows more dense but cannot handle climate extremes as well as red fescue can. Hard fescue enjoys moist soils and is used as a ground stabilizer.

All varieties of fine fescue share a few common traits, though. In general, they require less fertilizer. Additionally, fine fescues require a higher mowing height and less mowing frequency. In fact, fine fescue should NOT be cut in the summer. The mowing may stress the grass into dormancy and it will become dry and brown. Instead, allow your fine fescue to grow to its maximum height of 5-6” and mow it before a cool rainy summer day.

If you want a cool season grass that is low maintenance, fine fescue is the best choice for a shady site.

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