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Chewings Fescue

Botanical Name
Festuca rubra var. commutata
Min Zone
3
Height
Maintain at 2.5 to 4 inches
Light
Full sun to shade
Soil
Well-drained to dry
Planting & Care

The common fine fescues now used in shade and low-maintenance lawn mixes contain chewings, as well as creeping red and hard fescue.  Chewings is much like creeping red fescue, but it tends to grow more as a bunch grass than a spreader.  This makes it even slower to fill in bare areas and recover from wear.

Chewings fescue has long been used as a pasture grass.  It can also be found along roadsides and in athletic turfgrass mixes.  Its drought and shade tolerance mike it suitable for use in home lawns.  Chewings can be allowed to grow long when used in a no-mow lawn mix or mowed shorter for a more traditional lawn.

Select a lawn seed mix that includes this and other fine fescues.  Using a mixture of fescue species and varieties provides greater diversity in the lawn.  That means the grass will withstand extremes in weather and growing conditions while having better pest resistance.

Seeding Rate - 3.5 to 4.5 pounds per 1,000 ft2 for new lawns

Overseeding Rate - 3 pounds per 1,000 ft2 for thinning lawns

Germination Time - 7 to 10 days

Sod - Most sod is bluegrass.  Occasionally, you can find "shade" sod with some fescue in the mix.

Optimum Planting Time - Late August-September (mid October in South) is best or early spring before soil reaches 50°F

  • Suited for Northern climates
  • Shade tolerant
  • Drought tolerant
  • Suitable for no-mow and low-maintenance lawns
  • Will tolerate close mowing
  • Blends well with bluegrass
  • Endophyte types available for pest resistance
  • Raise the mowing height of your lawn mower if you haven’t already done so. Taller grass shades out some weeds and forms deeper roots, making it better able to compete with weeds and more drought and pest tolerant.
  • Make sure the blade is sharp for healthier and better-looking grass.
  • Remove no more than 1/3 the total height of the grass at one time to reduce the stress on the lawn.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn. Short clippings DO NOT cause thatch and break down quickly, adding moisture, organic matter, and nutrients to the soil. A season’s worth of clippings equals one fertilizer application.
  • The amount of fertilizer your lawn needs should be based on the quality of lawn desired and the time you want to spend managing your lawn. High quality heavily used lawns require the maximum amount of fertilizer, while low maintenance lawns need the least.
  • Start with a soil test so you apply the proper amount of fertilizer for your lawn.
  • Fertilize on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween. Eliminate the first two if you are following a low maintenance plan and add a light summer feeding if you are watering and going for a high quality lawn.
  • Increase success and decrease the risk of damage by using Milorganite fertilizer. It’s an organic-nitrogen slow release fertilizer that won't burn the lawn and the iron is an added bonus. Plus, the phosphorous is non-leaching. And when the microorganisms work on the Milorganite it releases phosphorous and potassium bound in the soil, making it available to the grass.
  • Proper watering helps keep your lawn healthy and enables it to out-compete the weeds. Water early in the morning, if possible, and thoroughly when footprints are left behind. This encourages deeply rooted drought and pest tolerant grass.
  • Recent droughts and efforts to conserve water may mean a change of habit. If you allow your lawn to go dormant during drought, minimize foot traffic and play on dormant lawns.
  • Don’t apply herbicides or quick release fertilizer to dormant lawns. The fertilizer will feed the weeds and both can damage the dormant grass.
  • Once you let your lawn go dormant, leave it dormant until the weather cools and rains return.
  • A healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. When weeds occur it usually means the growing conditions are better for the weeds than your grass.
  • Aerate lawns growing on compacted soil or with a half an inch of thatch or more.
  • Hand dig small populations of weeds. There are some new tools on the market that make this easier.
  • Spot treat weeds using the most eco-friendly products available.
  • Always sweep grass clippings and fertilizer residue off the walks and drives. This simple step keeps unwanted nutrients out of our waterways and eventually drinking water.
  • Never fertilize lawns when the ground is frozen.
  • Consider using a push or electric mower. It’s good for the waistline and the environment.
Problems
Slow to fill in and become established, slow to recover from wear, grubs, sod webworm, leaf spot, rust, voles (winter), moles (summer), skunks and raccoons digging for grubs
Varieties
  • Sandpiper, Intrigue, Ambassador, Tiffany - good for low maintenance lawns
  • Banner III, Shadow II, Treazure - low maintenance, resistant to or tolerant of Helminthosporium Leaf Spot
  • Shadow E - seed contains endophytic fungus that increases the plant's vigor as well as drought and stress tolerance

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