University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Seeding Fescues

Timing is key for good fescue establishment

by Pamm Cooper, Turf Program Educator


The ideal time to seed the fine-leaf fescues and turf-type tall fescue is mid-August to September. Germination and seedling emergence is very fast at this time because soil temperatures and warm and generally there is adequate soil moisture. A fast emergence will allow the new grass enough time to develop quickly before the weather turns cold. Seedlings are susceptible to winter kill if not allowed adequate growing time to establish before the onset of our cold winters. Early spring is another option, but cool temperatures may delay germination, conditions may be too wet, weed competition is possible, and the summer survival rate may be poor. Tall fescues need time to develop strong, deep roots in order to survive extreme heat and also droughty conditions.


The overall best grasses for most shady conditions are the fine fescues followed by the turf-type tall fescues. Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass are not well suited for shady conditions. Most fine fescues, however, do not do well in wet or very moist shady conditions. Turf-type tall fescues do better in these cases, but the stand may be thin. A grass to consider for wet or moist shady conditions is Poa trivialis – roughstalk or rough bluegrass. If none of these species make it in your shady situation, then you may want to consider trying something other than grass.