Tall Fescue vs St Augustine is a common question because both grass varieties are super popular in their respective areas. Fescues are more suited to colder regions, while st Augustine, like centipede grass, thrives in the hotter states of the US.

Comparing Maintenance Ease for Grass

Let us compare these grass varieties to help you make a more informed decision for your lawn.

Find out which grass is more suitable depending on your lawn and budget in this tell-all guide.

Features Tall Fescue St Augustine
Scientific Name Festuca perenne Stenotaphrum secundatum
Native Region The Middle East and Central Asia Western Africa, West Indies, The Gulf of Mexico
Uses Areas with high foot traffic Low traffic areas like roadsides, golf courses and lawns that are not used much.
What It Looks Like Dark green colored leaves with one side rougher than the other. Dark green and broad leaf blades
Grass Seed Germination Time Seven to 21 days Seven to 14 days
Growth Habit Grows straight up Grows horizontally and flat on the ground
Temperature Needs 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit  80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Mowed Height Three to four inches Two to three inches

Differences Between Tall Fescue and St Augustine

The difference between Fescue and St Augustine is that Fescue would take 21 days to germinate, while St Augustine germinates in 14 days. Moreover, the St Augustine grass is heat tolerant, whereas Fescue isn’t. In addition, St Augustin doesn’t tolerate foot trafficking, but the Fescue does. 

In short, St Augustine grass differs from Fescue because of its horizontal growth and flatter leaves. It is also much more expensive, requires more maintenance, and is only moderately tolerant of regular foot traffic. Taller Fescue, in comparison, is more shade tolerant and suited to colder climates.

Characteristics of the Fescue Grass

The characteristics of the Fescue grass include growing upwards, and tolerating both cool seasons and the heat. Moreover, it is cheap to invest in, and it is tolerant to foot trafficking, and it has a steady tolerance, which would not be compared to any other grass type. 

This fescue variety can be kept taller than most other grass types and has excellent shade, heat, and drought tolerance. 

– Grows Upwards

Both these grass varieties look somewhat similar because of their dark green colored and broad leaf blades. As a beginner, you can easily distinguish between the two by looking at how it grows from the ground, which means that it has the ability to will grow upward.

On a closer look, you will see that both of them have similar-shaped broad leaves, but those of Fescue are thicker than that of other types of grass. This means that this one would also feel much rougher to touch, and if you look at both sides of the grass, one side will be fine while the other will be rough.

– Cool Season Grass With Heat Tolerance

Being a grass that requires lower temperatures to germinate and sprout leaves; Fescue does well in colder states. However, it can tolerate slightly warmer temperatures and might even stay green during milder summer months.

The Versatile Fescue Grass An Overview

Many turf owners risk planting this grass in transition zones with hot summers. If the temperatures go near or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you will only see the grass going dormant or turning a sickly yellow. 

– Best Traffic Tolerance

The best thing about this variety of grass is that it is excellent tolerance for all kinds of foot traffic. Because it quickly establishes a long and extensive root system underground, this grass can repair its trampled blades in no time. The grass blades are resilient, with enough springiness to bounce back from being walked on, it will not wither, not will it become weak if you step on it. 

Without fear, you can plant this Fescue type in lawns, playgrounds, and sports grounds. There is no better grass if you want to use your lawn for fun and activities. No matter what type or quality of soil is present, this grass will establish itself anywhere.

Which means that this is not a problem you will encounter with this grass because it has the best traffic tolerance among most grass species. On the contrary to this notion, it will thrive even in a frequently populated public park with only a bit of upkeep.

Qualities of Tall Fescue Grass

– Cheap

This variety of grass is a much cheaper grass than any other variety, knowing that it has a great characteristic of resilience, and you can buy its seeds for over seeding every year at very reasonable prices.

The fact that it is meant to keep taller means less mowing, is a great investment if you think about it. Lastly, it can grow without strict, regular fertilization, so you can also cut costs there.

– Not Good At Competing With Other Grass Types

Fescue grasses need to improve at defending themselves against weeds and other competitive grass species growing within the same soil. For starters, you will have to use a lot of seeds while planting this grass to get a density thick enough to survive. When you do this, you will notice how the seed mixture you have bought has more than 70 percent pure seeds, or else the other grass type will take over.

Be careful when over seeding or mixing Fescue with rapidly spreading grass varieties such as bermuda grass or kentucky bluegrass. Mixing tall Fescue and st Augustine especially is not wise because soon st Augustine will take over the entire lawn, as a result, it is not recommended to compliment them together. 

Constant weed control is important to maintaining a lawn with Fescue growing. Almost every year during fall time, a pre-emergent and selective herbicide will have to be applied on the lawn. As for any other grass species competing with this type of grass, a lot of effort will go into manually uprooting it from the ground.

– You Can Mow It Taller

This variety of Fescue was termed ‘tall’ because it can be kept taller than any other household grass species. Most cool-growing grasses are generally mowed taller than their warm-growing counterparts, but none compares to tall-growing fescues. You can keep them as tall as four inches, which would not affect their traffic tolerance.

Moreover, if you think about it, this would also sound like such a big deal once you find out how much grass needs to be mowed during its growing season. When keeping this grass at a taller height, you will have to mow it much less and save yourself from unnecessary effort.

Characteristics of the St Augustine Grass

The characteristics of the St Augustine grass would include being expensive to invest in, and being high maintenance grass. On the plus side, it is drought tolerant, and you can irrigate it with salt water and would grow well in shaded areas. However, it doesn’t tolerate foot traffic.

St Augustine has many cool characteristics, such as its ability to tolerate shade, drought, and salt water. Still, it suffers under heavy foot traffic and is very expensive. You must be careful when walking over this grass because it tends to be sensitive to foot traffic. Even if it’s just your pets running around it every day, it reacts badly and begins to thin out. 

– Expensive

The most important deciding factor between these some types of grass is that St Augustine is much more expensive, whether it comes to buying its seeds or maintaining them long-term. 

On the other hand, it would also requires frequent fertilization and mowing to keep it from turning brown, which means that not only is the sowing expensive, but so is the nurturing of it. You will also have to spend additional money on lawn mower maintenance and fertilizers. 

St Augustin Grass Characteristic

– High Maintenance

St Augustine grass being a warm season type, will need constant lawn care and vigilance. It survives without water for several weeks but must be watered regularly to keep it healthy. It will also need to be fertilized regularly, starting from pre-seeding till the end of the growth period at the beginning of fall. 

Lastly, frequent mowing every other week will be needed to keep this grass at an ideal height of two and a half to three inches. Which is one of its growth factors, and again, this is a bit time consuming.

Compare this to other trees which would need much less attention and will continue growing. Weed control is the only thing you need to take care of while growing others. Their long roots will arrange for water and nutrients by themselves.

– Grows Well Under Shade

Here is grass with the best possible shade tolerance among all others. This variety of grass has a simple way of growing as it would only require that it receives about eight hours of sunlight every day, even if it is completely in an indirect form, or else it would be harmed. If large patches of your lawn or turf remain shaded throughout the day, this is the only grass that might grow there.

The Low Maintenance St Augustine Grass

Of course, when grown under direct sunlight, this grass will look much better than when grown under shade. Under full sun all day long, it will have the most exuberant growth and lush green color possible.

– You Can Give It Salty Water

St Augustine is one of those few lawn types of grass that can tolerate salty water without adverse side effects. No wonder this is such a sought-after grass variety in homes all over the coastal areas. You won’t see it become yellow, or lose color and wilt, on the contrary to the matter, it will stay till and grow. 

A grass with high salt tolerance can also survive being accidentally overfed with nutrients. However, this does not mean that giving salt water to a lawn is healthy. If you arrange fresh or filtered water once a week, your grass will grow much better.

– Will Tolerate Drought 

Like most common house grasses in the US, St Augustine will thrive with just an inch of water every week. It is also unique in that it can tolerate being overwatered and drought conditions for a while. If you overwater this grass, it can safely store three to four inches of water.

This property also means that St Augustine can go for long periods without access to adequate water. Its roots might not be as long as those of fescue or zoysia grass, but it still grows deep enough to survive drought for several weeks. Only after about four weeks will such a lawn begin to show signs of dormancy, like turning brown and wispy.

– Not So Good With Foot Traffic

St Augustine could be better with general foot traffic over its delicate grass blades with shallow roots as Fescue. No, you do not have to stay away from the lawn altogether because st Augustine can tolerate moderate foot traffic. 

Remember that if you would be occasionally walking on the lawn is fine as long as it is not too regular or with a heavy object. However, if you decide to install a little playground or a trampoline, or host parties around it, you will see the grass get weaker as it will not resist this traffic. 

If you have kids and pets who like to frequent the lawn and play around, this is not the best grass for your family. When its grass blades are trampled upon too much, they cannot repair themselves rapidly because of their relatively shallow root systems.

Driving a car over an st Augustine lawn or dragging something heavy across it will immediately lead to the development of bald patches in it.


Our guide above compared almost all the relevant aspects of these two different but similar-looking grass species. The most imperative thing to note here is that Fescue is better suited to areas with mild summers, while St Augustine will grow better in hotter areas. 

Another aspect to consider here is that Fescue is relatively inexpensive to plant and maintain long-term. Like fine Fescue and Bermuda grass, it is tolerant of various soil, water, and weather conditions and can withstand heavy foot traffic. 

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