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How to Grow Tall Fescue Grass in North Carolina

Updated on December 23, 2011

Tall fescue is one of the easiest kinds of grass to grow and is also one of the most commonly grown in North Carolina. The low maintenance of the grass makes it appealing in many subdivisions throughout the state. Another trait of the grass that a lot of communities find appealing is its durability. It grows well and doesn’t damage easily in high traffic outdoor areas. Despite the fact that tall fescue is an easy growing grass, many homeowners struggle for years trying to grow it. They can spend years aerating, fertilizing, seeding, and watering, always wondering what the “secret” is that their neighbors are keeping from them.

The “secret” is that really is no “secret”. There is no fancy spreader at Home Depot that will make your grass grow thicker. There is no special kind of seed that is going to grow 100 times better than the generic. Growing tall fescue grass in North Carolina just requires a few simple things: weed-n-feed, tall fescue grass seed, top soil, and lots of water.

The first step in preparing to grow a healthy tall fescue lawn is applying weed-n-feed to the existing lawn. Weed-n-feed will kill the existing weeds in the yard and fertilize the ground at the same time. It should be put down on the lawn in the late summer, around mid-August or September. The weed-n-feed can be spread using a spreader from your local Home Depot or Lowes or it can simply be spread by hand. Allow the weed-n-feed to set for at least six weeks to give it plenty of time to kill off the weeds and feed the existing lawn.

In late September or October, you will need to purchase tall fescue seed and several bags of lawn top-soil. Any brand will work fine. Before you seed, you will need to break up the ground in the bare spots. The weed-n-feed should have left you with bare spots in the lawn where weeds were before. Rake over all the bare spots with heavy rake to break up the dirt a little. After the dirt has been broken up, spread the seed evenly over all the bare spots. Then cover the seed with the ¼ to ½ inches of the top-soil. Remember that lawn soil is not the same thing as potting soil. Potting soil is much more expensive. Lawn soil with built in fertilizer can be found for about 7 dollars for a large bag.

After seeding and adding the top-soil, you will need to water the grass daily until the grass becomes established. The best time to water is early in the morning and you should water the lawn even when it is cold outside. You should start to see grass sprouting up in about a week and new seedlings will continue to sprout up for several weeks after that. Within several weeks you will have a beautiful tall-fescue lawn. Repeat this process every year during the fall to keep your tall fescue lawn looking beautiful.


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    • Jimania profile image

      Jimania 6 years ago from Atlanta GA USA

      You can improve the ability for fescue to thrive by removing tree limbs up to at least 15' above the ground. Fescue does not do well in shade, and a little more sunlight can make a big difference.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I'm so glad you wrote about fescue grass. I've been writing a lot about the benefits of growing native plants instead of the invasive species and when I got to grasses - fescue was native. And that ever popular Bermuda grass was not. As I plan my move to NC from NYC within the next couple years - definitely it will be fescue grass for me.

      Thanks a million and rated up and more.

    • cblack profile image

      cblack 6 years ago from a beach somewhere

      Thanks Donna. I spent 6 years tryign to grow grass in my yard, seeding and airating and fertilzing and never saw a sprout. Finally I started doing it this way with the top soil and it grew AMAZING!!! It was so simple and I just made itout to be harder than it really was all those years. Figured I would share for other people having the same problem.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      Useful information. My lawn needs help, and I'm going to file this away for next year.