Fine Fescue Grass: How to Grow and Care for Fine Fescue Lawns

Introduction to Fine Fescue Lawn Grass

If you’re looking for soft, lush lawn grass that tolerates shade, drought, and is low maintenance – a fine fescue blend fits the bill.

Suppose you live in the cool-season region (between south Canada and the transition zone).

In that case, fine fescue grass is the most suitable member of the fescue grass family for your lawn.

Whether you prefer a well-mowed and manicured lawn or a grassy knoll with wildflowers and a more natural appearance, fine fescue grass serves the purpose in either case.

Fine fescues are a genus of cool-season grasses comprising several fine fescue species.

Chewings fescue, sheep fescue, and hard fescue are perennial grasses that grow in clusters with only tillers.

On the other hand, creeping red fescue grass (both slender and strong varieties) uses rhizomes to spread more quickly.

The combination of creeping red fescue, chewings fescue, and hard fescue equally mixed is common.

Further mixing with popular grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass extends green-up seasons.


  • Fine fescues thrive in the shade of large evergreens and shade trees.
  • Thriving at higher elevations, fine fescues grow particularly well in rocky soils above 7,000 feet.
  • Fine fescue grass is a low fertility type; it does not require a high fertilizer rate. Only about half of that is necessary for Kentucky bluegrass lawns.
  • This grass combines admirably well with wildflowers—plant wildflower seed concurrently with grass seed for optimal results.
  • It has high salt tolerance and is thus used as roadside grass.
  • Newer breeds of fescue grass are even insect resistant.

Water Savings

  • Fine fescues conserve water in a reasonable manner. Thriving when watered -on average- fortnightly.
  • Certain species, such as sheep fescue and hard fescue grass, are drought-tolerant to a greater extent than others.
  • Performs best when watered monthly during the winter months from November to April.

Fine Fescue Installation

  • The best time to seed is between August 15 and September 30.
  • While seeds germinate quickly, it can take time for them to fill in.
  • Regular watering and fertilization are required for several weeks following planting.
  • Over time, it may become clumpy or develop a thick thatch layer.

Do Not Plant Fine Fescue Grass If You Encounter:

  • Your backyard is hot and sunny – fine fescue grass is shade tolerant.
  • When temperatures exceed 90-degrees Fahrenheit, fine fescues turn brown.
  • A high volume of foot traffic.
  • Upright grass is more desired in lawns. Fescue blades are finer and are inclined to lay down more than traditional lawn grass blades.
  • Rapid expansion is wanted. Fine fescues are slow to cover a field (two seasons).

How to Care for Fine Fescue Grass Lawns

When planting a lawn, one of the first considerations is the layout: shade presence, soil type, soil acidity, drainage, and other plants.

Before planting a new lawn, preparations need to be made; the soil bed should be free of weeds, clots, and stones as a starting point.

If the soil hasn’t been tested in the last three to four years, use this opportunity to do so. Fine fescues are not needy lawns.

The test primarily determines the pH, which should be between 5.0 and 6.5 – slightly acidic.


Adding peat moss will increase the acidity if required, and adding compost will improve the soil’s moisture management.

Since fine fescue is a cool-season grass, you need to time your planting between late summer to early fall – somewhere between mid-August and the end of October.

If you happen to miss that window, early spring will also work. Ensure that the soil temperature is above 60-degrees.

Otherwise, the seeds will not germinate. On the other hand, if air temperatures are too high, fledgling plants will struggle to survive.

Rolling the seedbed will ensure that it is as level as possible.

Then spread seeds at a rate of 3 to 8-pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet and cover with a quarter-inch of soil.

Then re-roll your cover layer to ensure good seed-soil contact. Fine fescue seed is a medium-sized seed that contains approximately 400,000 seeds per pound.

Seedlings germinate rapidly (five to twelve days) and establish quickly. Fine fescues blend well with other cool-season grass species.

Water the lawn regularly, keeping the top inch of soil consistently moist. This is critical for seed germination.

Reduce watering once the grass begins to grow to allow the roots to establish.

Caring for Fine Fescue Lawns


Mow at a length of between 1.5 to 3-inches weekly or fortnightly in the growing season. A rotary mower works best with fine fescues.


Apply 0.5 to 1-pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in a single application during the growing season.

Annual application rates range from 1 to 2-pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

Other nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, and others, should be applied based on soil test results.


Look out for red thread, brown patch, and dollar spot. Treat according to advised lawn maintenance protocols.

Other types of grass to consider

If you are looking for other varieties of grass to grow in your yard, check out our other related posts:


What Is the Difference Between Tall Fescue & Fine Fescue?

Tall fescue lawns are considered a broad-leaved fescue grass type – Meaning it has wide, flat blades that are typically seen in lawn grasses. Turf-type tall fescues are generally used more often than fine fescue grass. In contrast, fine fescue grass is a broad stroke term for all fine-leafed and fine texture fescue grasses. Fine fescue grass generally has thinner grass blades. Some fine fescue types of grass have needlepoint blades.

Does Fine fescue grow in full sun?

Yes, it does but will soon brownout. It is a cool-season grass that can handle shade. If you need a full sun grass lawn, you should choose tall fescue instead.

Is fine fescue suitable for lawns?

Yes, it is definitely great for lawns and turf. It is a very low-maintenance and eco-friendly grass type you can grow for your front yard. Fine fescue grass will grow rapidly and be compatible with other types of grasses. frequently mixed with country and rye just as various assortments of fine fescue.


Fine fescue grass is environmentally friendly due to its low maintenance requirements; less water and fertilization.


Show More
  • Reynolds, C. & Flint, M. (n.d.). Hard fescue — Festuca longifolia. The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California. URL:
  • Cook, T. (2009). The Fine Fescues. Beaver Turf, College of Agricultural Sciences , Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University. URL:
  • Watkins, E. (2018). Which fine fescue should you use? Turfgrass Science, University of Minnesota. URL:
  • About/Mentions: Fine Fescue, Lawn, Gardening, Sod

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