Arizona Gardening: Tall fescue a winter lawn option - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Arizona Gardening: Tall fescue a winter lawn option

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Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2007 4:39 pm | Updated: 6:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q: I have very large Arizona ash trees in our yard and our Bermuda lawn has gradually died out. Winter rye burns up during the summer; are there any other lawn options?

Q: I have very large Arizona ash trees in our yard and our Bermuda lawn has gradually died out. Winter rye burns up during the summer; are there any other lawn options?

A: Tall fescue. I have planted several yards into fescue, and those that were in full shade looked pretty good all summer. Those areas that were exposed to the summer sun burned down. If you are going to plant fescue, the fescue should be your winter lawn, plant it in October or early November in place of winter rye so the roots will be well established for the summer heat. It should be mowed at about 2 inches tall in the winter and let it grow to about 3 inches tall in the summer so the growing crown and the soil surface will be shielded and therefore cooled by the tall grass blades.

During the winter, water once weekly for 30 to 40 minutes.

During the summer water every one to two days for 30 to 40 minutes. As you can see, during the summer tall fescue is a water hog to keep it from burning up.

Do not fertilize from May thru September. Fescue is a cool-season grass and the summer heat stresses it, so applying fertilizer in the summer just makes the plant growth speed up, which takes too much energy out of the plant, and you will hasten its death.

Summary

1. Plant a tall fescue blend in the fall at the rate of 8 to 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet. Planting thicker than this rate will make the grass weaker over time.

2. Mowing height is 2 to 2 1/2 inches in the winter and 3 inches in the summer.

3. Do not fertilize May thru September.

4. Overseed again each October with fescue blend.

5. Plant it now while the weather is still warm to get a quick germination.

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