Red Fescue is a lovely, soft, dark green Cool Season lawn type which has been popular for a very long time in different countries around the world. Originating in North America, Red Fescue grass has undergone many changes in recent years to make it more suitable and more robust for use in even more diverse applications.
Red Fescue is a part of the family of Fescue grasses known as Fine Fescues, and as their family name suggests, Red Fescue has a refined fine leaf blade, making it a perfect grass type for use as a lawn.
As a Cool Season grass type, it is not suitable for use as a home lawn in most of the warmer regions in the country, but it can be a perfect lawn for many of our cooler areas.
Red Fescue does not handle heavy traffic overly well, it is a grass type which is best suited to low to medium traffic areas. For lawns which would be subjected to heavy wear and tear from dog or other pets, or from children constantly playing, then another grass type may be worth considering.
Lawn fertilising requirements of Red Fescue are on the low end of the scale, the lawn needs very little fertiliser, and often if the lawn isn't doing very well and is receiving frequent fertilising - then the best option is usually to stop fertilising altogether and monitor how the grass recovers over the following months.
Overall, Red Fescue is considered a very hardy grass type, tolerating shade and drought very well, tolerating the cold and has low maintenance requirements from fertilisers.
Red Fescue has excellent shade tolerance, so many Red Fescue lawns can often be extended into shady areas without any problems. It must be remembered by homeowners who are extending their lawns into shaded areas, that lawn mowing heights will need to be increased for these areas. The longer green leaf blade is necessary for the lawn to power more photosynthesis under diminished light levels.
Red Fescue lends itself very generously to being mixed with other grass types, a Ryegrass companion will give the lawn far greater durability to traffic and pets, while a Bluegrass mix will deepen and darken the colour of the lawn very nicely.
Red Fescue grass has undergone some significant changes over recent times, including transforming the lawn to grow runners in the same way Warm Season grasses do. These new varieties may well be worth considering as they give a Red Fescue Lawn the ability to spread and repair themselves instead of needing to be re-seeded after damage.
These above ground runners are known as Stolons, and a Fescue with this feature will often be referred to as being a Stoloniferous Red Fescue.
Red Fescue can be purchased in seed form and should also be available in roll-on lawn in the cooler regions of the country. As a cool season lawn, it is usually best planted in very early Spring, or Autumn, avoiding any risk of hot days during the establishment period of the lawn. A new Red Fescue lawn should be fully established and healthy prior to the onset of Summer or a very cold Winter.