Grass is grass right?
Not so. If you live in the United States and are considering a major overhaul to your property, it is vital you understand the differences between tall fescue and fine fescue grass varieties. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages to each type, you can make an informed decision about what seed variety will work best in your particular area. The time spent in research will maximize all that hard work and money with years of beautiful green grass to enjoy with your family.Common traits of fescue grasses
Fescue grasses are considered cool season grasses, designed to work in the majority of the United States and into Canada. Both types of fescue grass are built with three major advantages; they are tolerant of the shade, able to withstand long periods without rain, and stay green all year. They also need less fertilizer due to a deep root system. The fescue grasses solve the problem that other grass varieties have with areas of significant temperature fluctuation; the warm season grasses cannot handle the cold winters, and the cool season grasses cannot handle the hot summer. The fescue grasses are able to handle the wide range of temperatures. Because of this, many seed mixtures contain fescue grasses as well.What are the differences between the two types?Tall fescue grass
Tall fescue grass is a broad-leaved bunching grass that works well for lawns and sports fields. Despite the word "tall" in its name, this grass when left un-mowed will not grow taller than 20". The newer varieties can be used for pastures with livestock. If the lawn is subject to extreme drought or insect damage, you can over seed a tall fescue grass in the fall to help prepare the lawn for the next warm season. This grass is built to withstand a lot of traffic, thus making it a good choice for large areas that get a lot of activity. The tall fescue grass performs a bit better in the heat than the fine fescue variety.Fine fescue grass
This variety excels in the shade. It will continue to grow rapidly despite the lack of sun. Keep in mind that if fine fescue is planted in full sunlight, it will slow down the growing process. If you have long periods of heat, this grass will have to be watered more frequently. On the flip side, it the preferred grass seed for the colder climates. Fine fescue grass seed is usually added to seed mixtures to help compliment the other variety. It is a non-aggressive, drought resistant, low maintenance grass that germinates in 14 days. There are several sub-species of fine fescue grass bred for more particular adaptations.
Sub-species of fine fescue grass
Creeping red fescue
Like its name implies, the creeping fescue creeps along the ground. This variety is especially hardy in the cold and shaded areas and has a red tint at the base of the leaf. Creeping fescue is also used for areas that are left un-mowed, such as meadow slopes and roadside locations.
This grass variety is used primarily to round out seed mixtures. The seed does well in sandy soils and can be mown quite low. The disadvantage to chewings is that it is not as tolerant to wear and tear as other varieties.
Hard fescue is in fact one of the "hardiest" varieties of fescue grass. It can be grown at high elevations and performs well in droughts, the cold, and shaded areas. The grass has a pretty blue-green color that stays green for longer than other types. It cannot be mown too low and its growing habits mimic a lot of tall fescue types.
Which one is right for you?
Once you have a better understanding of the different types of fescue grasses, take down some notes about the particular area you are seeding. Watch the sun path, look up the average high and low temperatures of the year, and analyze the amount of foot traffic and frequency of mowing. Once you have that settled, you will be able to choose the type of fescue grass that works best for your needs.