Tall fescue pros and cons are points that matter a lot, especially when you’re looking for low-maintenance grass types. While these grasses are easy to care for, they’re not for everybody.
In order to arrive at an informed decision, we’ll need to consider each and every benefit and drawback. Keep reading this article, so you will have a better understanding as we have mentioned each reason for the characteristic of this grass.
- The Pros of Tall Fescue Grass
- The Cons of Tall Fescue Grass
The Pros of Tall Fescue Grass
The pros of tall fescue grass are its deep rooting system, tolerating heat and drought, and shades. It also handles moderated foot traffic, requires minimal care, handles the cold, it also germinates quite fast, grows in any soil, and lastly, comes in different shades.
The great thing about the fescue type of grass is that it works well as a transitional zone grass while being tolerant to heat and drought. However, it can be susceptible to various environmental and genetic issues that can be detrimental to its health.
– Deep Root Systems
Tall fescue works as a transitional zone grass, unlike bermuda grass. This means the plant is used to fill the gaps between winter-tolerant grass and drought-hardy turf. Since the root system of this particular grass grows deep, it is able to establish itself quickly in lawns.
At the same time, it is quite adaptive to most climates, which means that the grass will enhance itself where you are located.
– Tolerant of Heat and Drought
The tall fescue has extensive taproot systems so that it can survive most harsh summer periods and short droughts. This grass can withstand a week or two without any rain or watering.
During this time, the grass maintains its appearance without wilting or going into dormancy. However, if there is prolonged drought, then the tall fescue may turn brown and go dormant, which is a way that you could know that the grass is not active, at this point.
– Tolerant of Shade
This grass grows well in full sun, as well as shade. The tall grass does not exhibit thinner or fewer leaf blades, unlike perennial ryegrass, even under lower light levels. Instead, it retains its appearance despite being grown in areas that do not receive high amounts of sunlight.
In fact, this grass survives in areas where most sun-loving grasses usually perish. Hence, the grass will look very well because even in the shades it will develop well.
– Handles Moderate Foot Traffic Well
The resilience of the leaf blades of this grass means that it can tolerate being trampled occasionally. This allows lawns with these grasses to be extensively walked on without any damage.
Its dense leaves enable the grass to bounce back without any harm to its appearance and structure. As a result, this grass is an excellent option for areas with moderate foot traffic, if you step on it or kids play around this grass, they won’t be damaging the quality any further.
– Requires Minimal Care
The drought tolerant nature of this grass, unlike the perennial ryegrass, means that homeowners can focus on enjoying their turf instead of constantly watering it. Its root systems can go over six feet deep.
Its deep roots allow homeowners to reduce the time of caring for the lawn. However, if you want to keep a regular watering schedule, give this grass one to two inches of water weekly, which is a great result for a home lawn.
– Tolerates Cold Well
On top of being tolerant of drought, this type of fescue can also tolerate stiff frosts. It has been found that this grass can withstand temperatures as low as three degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the grass ideal for lawns in hot and cold regions.
– Quick to Germinate
Each grass seed produced by this grass plants tends to germinate quickly compared to other grasses.
Typically, baby grasses will start to show up in less than two weeks after being sown. This allows homeowners to prepare their lawns in advance in order to enjoy the fine fescue grasses. Aside from this, any reseeding activities will yield quicker results.
– Grows in Almost Any Soil
This grass isn’t picky when it comes to soil conditions. Even when planted in poor soil, the tall fescue can be found thriving happily. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ensure your soil remains poor, but the quality is what matters here, and different types of qualities, to be exact.
Soils rich in nutrients and organic materials will encourage this grass to grow but they are not prerequisites to the overall health of the grass.
– Comes in Differing Shades
This grass can show up in a variety of vibrant green colors. From medium green to rich verdant shades, selecting the right cultivar of tall fescue can be a difficult experience.
Other varieties, such as red fescue and creeping red fescue, also have wonderful shades of green, despite their names; however, this grass has different vibrancies, and they can match the color you wish as you invest in them.
The Cons of Tall Fescue Grass
The cons of tall fescue grass are that it cannot handle extended periods of drought and will be unable to fill in the damages and gaps again. It requires regular maintenance, is vulnerable to wet climates, having a coarse texture. It can be invasive, and toxic when ingested.
While this grass has many advantages, it has its drawbacks as well. You’ll need to consider these before you decide to plant some in your garden.
– Unable to Handle Extended Periods of Drought
While it can tolerate one to two weeks of drought, the tall fescue will perish if the lack of water extends beyond this period. This can result in the grass turning brown and going into a dormancy period.
When the grass undergoes dormancy, it will stay this way until it is provided with rain or watering and cooler temperatures. If left without any irrigation past two weeks in the summer, this type of grass may be found unattractive and unusable by homeowners.
– Unable to Fill in Damaged Gaps
Fescue grasses are unable to repair damaged areas in the lawn. Instead of sending out runners or stolons to cover the patch, fescue grass may begin to become affected by the bare zone. As a result, the empty patch of soil becomes larger.
Homeowners have to resort to manually reseeding to fill in all the gaps in the ground. When this happens, the work can be intensive and intricate. This is why most people would think twice because at times the task could be a little overwhelming or exhausting.
– Requires Regular Maintenance
Under ideal conditions, this grass has a vibrant green appearance from early March through late October. It must be mowed down regularly to keep the tall grass healthy and attractive. This can be great news for homeowners who love to mow their lawns.
On the other hand, this can be time-consuming or costly if they outsource their lawn care. Of course, the maintenance level is not too much, but again, you cannot even leave the grass on its own to grow at its given pace.
– Vulnerable to Wet Climate Conditions
Despite its nature as a cool-season grass type, the tall fescue is susceptible when exposed to overly wet conditions. Frequent watering is often the culprit since it can lead to soil conditions becoming constantly wet.
Since the grass has deep taproots that seep water from the ground, the root systems become affected. This can lead to the grass developing diseases or harboring pests. If this condition is left unresolved, the issue can easily spread to other areas of the garden, and it would be challenging to overcome become at most times, when it is too late, the grass could be harmed completely.
– Coarse Grass Texture
The tough and resilient quality of the tall fescue is reflected in its texture. Despite its attractive colors, this grass is rather coarse due to its leaf blades possessing a rough and bristly feel.
While the grass is ideal for moderate foot traffic, it may not be ideal for children to walk barefoot. Some adults with sensitive skin even find walking on hard fescue grass to be a bit uncomfortable. Its hard texture isn’t always so welcoming if you would like to sit on the grass or walk barefoot, especially if you have kids who would like to play on it.
– Susceptible to Bare Patches
Even if this grass germinates quickly, it doesn’t grow as fast. When tall fescue is mowed shorter than three inches, it can expose the sod. When the sod gets exposed, it can dry out. Dried sods result in bare patches of lawn grass, creating an unsightly appearance that can affect your overall lawn care.
– Can Become Invasive
This grass can easily overtake some areas if not properly contained. By spreading its rhizomes, tall fescue can form extensive grass colonies that can compete with native vegetation.
When it is left unchecked, the grass can eventually displace native plants that local wildlife relies on for food. As a result, tall fescue can impact the biodiversity of a locality if not properly monitored.
Some homeowners also consider this grass as a weed. Consequently, they use herbicides designed specifically for weed control to reduce the presence of this grass. Some homeowners spray fungicides on these grasses to contain the fungus as a preventive measure. While they can be deterrents, fungicides do not always fully guarantee the absence of deadly fungi.
– Can Be Toxic When Ingested
Tall fescue can release compounds that can cause poisoning upon consumption. The toxin can affect cows, horses, goats, and sheep. Even birds, grasshoppers, and ants may perish. Nematodes, which are important to nutrient cycling and release, can have adverse reactions to the toxin.
Even other varieties are known to have this toxin. Generally, this grass is considered safe. However, when the grass is contaminated by the Acremonium coenophialum fungus, it starts producing toxic compounds, which would not dangerous to kids and pets if they ingest it accidentally.
Tall fescue is a hardy, resilient grass that makes the perfect turf for many lawns. However, this grass can have its drawbacks. Let’s wrap things up with what we’ve learned about this grass so far:
- This type of grass is tolerant of shade, heat, drought, and even frost.
- This grass germinates quickly, requires minimal care, and can handle moderate foot traffic well.
- Being incredibly hardy and resilient, this vibrant grass can grow even in poor soils.
- The grass can also be vulnerable to excess water despite its tough, rough leaf blades.
- In some states, this grass can become invasive and toxic when exposed to certain fungi.
With so much we’ve covered about this beautiful and tall grass, you now better understand its benefits and drawbacks. Do you think tall fescue is for you when it comes to grass care?
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