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FESTUCA arundinacea

Image of Festuca arundinacea

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

FESTUCA arundinacea

Plant Common Name

Tall Fescue

General Description

A dense clump-forming perennial, tall fescue is a durable turf grass that grows best in regions with cool to moderate temperatures. It has very dense, soft blades that make it a good lawn grass for playgrounds and athletic fields. Native populations exist in open fields and meadows across Europe and North Temperate Asia. Unlike other turf grasses, it does not spread via rhizomes, so it tidily stays put.

Tall fescue has deep roots that allow it to withstand seasonal drought. It has fine, deep green blades that are glossy on their undersides. The floral stems - called tillers - arise from the clump, grow upward and are topped with a panicle of tiny yellow-green flowers in spring. The wind-pollination plants produce many seeds that are scattered to the soil below. These will germinate when growing conditions are cool and moist. Plants will remain semi-evergreen in mild cool winters. During drought or extreme winter cold, the clumps will turn brown until growing conditions improve.

Tall fescue naturally grows well in moist, open pastures. When grown as turfgrass, it's best grown in well-drained clay soil, although it's quite adaptable. Even moisture is needed for good health, especially during warm months. Mow and maintainat a height no less than 2 inches (~5 cm), and during drought and heat, it is best mowed higher to prevent stress. Fertilize tall fescue lawns only in the cooler growing months of fall, winter or spring. If allowed to grow uncut, this perennial grass makes an effective erosion control on banks and slopes.

Contact local turf specialists to learn if any particular cultivar of tall fescue is best suited to your region's soil and climate. White grubs and fungal diseases can be problematic in some areas. Overly wet conditions increases the risk of fungal dieback.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-4' / 0.3m - 1.2m

  • Width

    3"-6" / 7.6cm - 15.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Central Asia, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Tan

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Groundcover, Lawns and Turf

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes