It seems like my fescue thinned out this summer. How do I reseed and when is the best time? DH
Fescue is a good choice for areas of your landscape that get some shade. It thrives in spring and winter, but struggles with our Oklahoma summers. As a result, most of us need to re-seed our fescue each year to keep a thick healthy turf.
Cool season grasses, like fescue, germinate best when the soil temperature is in the 70-degree range. This happens in both the spring and fall, but fall is the best time to re-seed as this gives your new fescue the fall, winter, and spring to develop a healthy root system. The last half of September through the first half of October usually gives us the soil temperature we need.
Oklahoma is fortunate in that we have the Oklahoma Mesonet (mesonet.org), which provides us with a wealth of information, including the soil temperature for each county. At this writing, 2” soil temperature in Tulsa County is 72 degrees, so this is perfect!
For optimal results, we recommend purchasing seed with a blend of at least 3 different types of seed rather that a single cultivar. Doing so not only increases your likelihood of success, but combining grasses tends to reduce the incidence of disease as each type tends to mask the weaknesses of the others.
It is also a good idea to prepare your soil rather than just sprinkle seed on the ground. The upper layer of soil tends to develop a crust so seeds dropped on this hard surface will either blow or wash away before having a chance to germinate. Breaking up the soil can be done with a rake or by perhaps renting a tiller or verticutter for difficult situations.
Seed should be sown evenly with either a rotary or drop spreader and applied at a rate of 3-6 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. when reseeding.
Seeds must have water to germinate which typically means watering twice a day for a few minutes during the first 2-3 weeks. The key is to keep the seeds moist. Once the seedlings are 1-2 inches tall, you can begin watering less frequently and for longer periods.
Fertilization will also be necessary, and we recommend getting a soil test from the OSU Extension so that you will know exactly which nutrients your soil requires for best results.
One word of caution: if you plan or re-seeding this fall, do not use a weed pre-emergent as this will not only work to prevent weeds from growing but will also prevent your new fescue from growing as well.
We have quite a bit of information at our Diagnostic Center and on our website to help you maintain your new and existing turf: click “Lawn & Garden Help” and then select “Turfgrass” for fact sheets and videos (www.tulsamastergardeners.org).
You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at email@example.com.