Fescues are grasses particularly well suited to cool season climates, though their resistance to drought also makes them suited to dry climates. There are both tall and short fescue varieties. Both kinds share the same main characteristics: they are shade tolerant, stay green all year long and are tolerant of droughts.
First introduced into the United States in the early part of the 19th century, fescue grasses can be found growing in low, damp meadows and pastures throughout North American and Europe, as well as some areas of Northern Africa.
The fescue category is actually composed of about one hundred difference sub-species of grasses. Some of these include creeping red, hard, sheep and chewing fescue. Depending on your needs, you will want to look at the difference species of Fescue grasses.
For example, Red Fescue has narrow, deep blades and can be used to establish a lawn very quickly, whereas Hard Fescue is a really hardy grass that is slow growing and requires little maintenance. Fescue varieties are often mixed in with other types of grass to increase the health and vitality of a lawn.
The things that all Fescues share are an ability to grow in shady spots, drought resistance and an ability to grow well with most other varieties of grass.
Here are some of the best spots to use Fescue grasses:
1. Cool, Damp Spots
Fescues are most suited to cooler and damper climates. Tall Fescue can be somewhat drought resistant by going into a dormant state when there is little water to be found, but on the whole fescue grasses are more suited to low lying, damp areas.
2. Clay Soils
Fescue grasses can be adapted to different soil types, but it is soils high in clay levels that most appeal to this variety of grass. Clay soil with a high level of organic material will yield the best results. If you have soil that is rich in clay and organic matter, then fescue grass may be the best option for you.
3. Shady Spots
This type of grass can grow in partial shade. Though virtually all grass needs some kind of sun or light to thrive, there are many varieties that need more light than your landscape is able to provide. If that is the case then you might consider looking into Fescue grass, which can survive in cool, shady spots.
4. Transitional Zones
Though Fescue was originally thought best suited to cooler season climates, it can also work really well in what is know as the transitional zone of the United States. Places like Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky and the northern parts of Georgia and Texas are all part of this transitional zone. Fescue grasses can do very well in areas like because cool season grasses do not survive due to humid summers and warm season grasses fair no better because of colder winters. If you live in this kind of transitional zone, Fescue grasses might be able to thrive where other types of grasses have failed.
5. Round the Old Oak Tree
Because Fescues can survive in shady spots, these grasses do really well under trees. It is often difficult to find grasses that will do well under the shade of trees, but Fescue is one of these varieties. If you have had trouble in the past with grass around your trees, then you might try planting a variety of Fescue grass. Because Fescue can do well in partial shade, they are well suited to spots under trees that shed their leaves every year.
If you are in a warm season growing climate, than Fescue really isn’t the best option for you. There are many varieties of grasses that do well in southern climates, but Fescues aren’t one of them. If you are in a northern climate or the transitional zone, then Fescue might be a good option to consider.
Because of the hardiness of this grass, it will work well on its own in certain areas of your lawn and also play nice with other varieties of grass. Mixing in Fescue grasses will help other varieties of grasses you already have in your lawn, perform better, and they might even fix problem shady areas on your lawn.