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FESTUCA arundinacea

Image of Festuca arundinacea

Gerald L. Klingaman



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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Tan

  • Fruit Color


  • 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


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Groundcover, Lawns and Turf

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing