September 27, 2012

Here is a post from Larry Ginger of ‘American Lawn Care’.  It goes along with that post by Dr. Minner two days ago about using turf-type tall fescues for lawns damaged by the drought.

Larry seeded turf-type fescues in the fall of 2011 and was very pleased with their performance in the drought of 2012.

I also seeded some turf-type fescues in some areas of my own lawn where the soil was thin and I was having a hard time keeping Kentucky bluegrass.  I was pleased with the results during the 2012 drought and have seeded some additional areas over my septic system and over the buried propane tank where I lost bluegrass this year.  I'll let you know next year how that worked out.

From Larry:

After tiring of brown/dormant bluegrass turf over the past few years, I decided to try "turf-type tall fescue" in the fall of 2011. 

On the day before Thanksgiving 2011" I did the following things:

1) Mowed my Kentucky bluegrass lawn nearly "down to the soil surface".
2) Raked off all grass clippings.
3) Spread a 3-way blend of Falcon ll, Falcon III, Falcon IV turf-type tall fescue grass seed over top. 
4) Then I aerated multiple times.   (approx 12 passes with 3 machines running)  see Figure 1 -- lots of plugs, holes, mud.
Then we just left it alone.  Never dragged it.  Never watered.  Never fertilized.

Four weeks later on Dec. 22, the grass began to emerge.  The new turf-type tall fescue resembled "moss".  (see Figure 1)  I realize the mild weather helped.  My concern at that point was possible "winter kill", but that never happened. 

(This is surprising, I often get winter kill on late seedings of tall fescue.  I would recommend seeding in August or early September if you can.  It is amazing that this worked so well.  Nick Christians)

By April 20, 2012, I had mowed this lawn several times, and it never received any treatments of any kind.  (Figure 2).  This picture shows that my lawn was already completely established (filled in), and it had been mowed 3 times..  It's the only pic I have of my lawn from this past spring.
I was holding a one-quart rechargeable spot sprayer that I just purchased.   (A lawn care company in Kansas wanted a pic of this sprayer)

Figure 3 shows my lawn "after the drought of 2012".  It was taken August 18, 2012.  It shows a few 'semi dormant'  patches (in full sun areas), yet no areas of this new lawn are dead. During the 2012 growing season, this lawn handled the drought remarkably well.  I fertilized the lawn in late July and early August.  The first application contained Merit, the fertilizer was 50% slow release.  The second application was 3 weeks later with a 50 % slow release.   I have been very pleased with the performance of my turf-type tall fescue this year.

Larry Ginger
American Lawn Care
5880 NW 2nd St
Des Moines, IA  50313
(800) 700-6330



 Figure 1.  Just after emergence of seedlings in the fall of 2011.

Figure 2.  April 20, 2012.

 Tall Fescue Turf

Figure 3.  August 18, 2012 after a couple of months of drought with a little rain in early August.

Tall Fescue Turf


Nick Christians Professor

Nick Christians, Ph.D. – University professor of turfgrass management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA, and adjunct faculty, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Dr. Christians received his B.S. from the Colorado State University ...