This first major cool front and rain event in Tulsa has signaled the official start of the fescue seeding season here in Oklahoma. Being a cool-season grass, fescue will often thin out during hot Oklahoma summers, along with the stress from Brown Patch turf disease, shade, water stress, improper mowing, and other factors. Therefore, fescue should be over-seeded every fall in order to fill in thin areas and replace dead grass.
Fescue does not spread out as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass does. It’s a bunch type grass, so when it’s gone, it’s gone, and it needs to be replaced with new seedlings. Fall is the best time to seed, as it will germinate well with cooler soil temperatures and have about 9 months to mature before the stress of summer hits again.
The Keys to Seeding Success
One key to seeding success is to choose the right type of fescue seed. There are hundreds of different varieties of fescue, with some better than others. If you go to the big box stores and look at the seed label, you’ll see exactly what’s in that bag of seed, and unfortunately it’s often not all good.
The other big key to seeding success is proper watering for the first 3 weeks especially as the seed is germinating. One can’t hardly over-water for those first 10 days or so, so be prepared to irrigate well during that critical time. You can’t just depend upon Mother Nature consistently supplying water with rainfall.
How to Read Seed Bag Labels
I recently took pictures of two labels on what looked like good bags of seed. As you can see, Mix #1 contained .05% weed seed, 1.5% other crop seed, and even some noxious weeds. Mix #2 had .5% other crop seed, .2% weed seed, and several noxious weeds in the blend. And, most of the fescue varieties I’ve never hear of.
0.5% may not sound like much, but that translates to over 1000 weed seeds into a 1,000-foot area in your turf when seeding at a rate of 10 pounds of seed per 1,000 feet. That’s a lot of weeds to then have to eliminate either by pulling or with herbicide application (not recommended on new seedlings).
Blenders will often put in poor varieties in these mixes just to get rid of them, with maybe one good performing seed in the mix. Other crop seeds are actually weeds when trying to establish a fescue turf. Much of those are orchardgrass and little barley, both of which are impossible to control in turf short of pulling them up or spraying Round-Up to kill everything. So we don’t want any “other crop seed” in our blend, even a little bit. Same thing with weeds—why would I want to sow weed seeds into a turf stand?
Buy 100% Pure Fescue Seed!
We STRONGLY encourage homeowners not to purchase seed from the big box stores, or anything that is not 100% pure fescue seed. With seed as with everything else, you get what you pay for. To be blunt, the seed at the box stores is a bunch of crap, and IF you use crappy seed, you’ll have a crappy lawn!
Our LawnAmerica custom-blended seed is a combination of four top performing fescues, with zero weed or other crop seed. Even if one wants to do their own seeding this fall, contact us and we’ll sell you our seed to use so that you can be assured that the seed you are sowing is top quality and will not have other weeds and grasses in it.