How to Overseed in the Fall with Fescue?

You can easily overseed in the fall with Fescue by getting your soil tested, selecting the right type of seed and actively sowing them at the right time. Summer often leaves cool-season grass lawns looking dry. The constant heat and the countless hours spent on the grass tend to take its toll. Apart from this, the onset of lower temperatures is not likely to help your lawn. So the question arises, how do you help the lawn recover and prepare it for the coming cold season? 

The answer is, by overseeding your lawn with fescue.

Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!

Why overseed the lawn with Fescue?


According to gardening experts, such as Eden, overseeding is aimed at rejuvenating a lawn. You need to do it after the hot summer days have taken a toll on your lawn’s grass. By adding fescue, which grows well in fall and spring, you can effectively recover your lawn from the harsh effects of summer

Fescue is a type of bunch-grass and grows tall and fine. This grass doesn’t have runners to produce new plants as the warm-season grasses do. Bunch-type grasses need to be overseeded to repair barren patches, and the best time to overseed Fescue is during fall. 

How to Overseed in the Fall with Fescue?


Here’s a simple, stepwise way to successfully overseed in the fall with Fescue:

1. Get the soil tested

The first step in overseeding in the fall with Fescue involves knowing the basics. Get a soil test done to evaluate the quality. Then, according to results, you will know how much fertilizer, lime or other soil amendments you will need to add to it. This should suffice for 6 to 8 weeks.

2. Choose the right seed

Once the soil is prepared, it is time to choose the right type of Fescue seed for overseeding. The choice of seed is extremely important. To do this, you can contact your local Extension office or agent and find out which Fescue cultivars can grow in your lawn. 

3. Overseed at the right time

Early fall and late summer have lower temperatures and offer the most favorable conditions for cool-season grasses, such as Fescues. This is in contrast to warm-season grasses like Bermuda-grass or St. Augustine, which usually thrive during the warm summer months. 

On the other hand, if you are in the transition zone, which covers a large swath of the country, you may want to choose other types of cool-season grasses, like Ryegrass or Kentucky blue-grass. The transition zone has a weather pattern which is not suitable to grow cool-season or warm-season grasses. 

Overseeding is most common in the Midwest. 

Identifying Fescues

Fescue grass thrives in well-drained soils with air temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. There are several different fescue cultivars to choose from, including:

  • Tall fescue – This type of grass can adapt to a plethora of soil and climatic conditions. It has a medium to coarse texture and can easily tolerate wear-and-tear, drought and high temperature conditions. This fescue grass grows well in areas with light shade or full sun. 
  • Fine fescue – There are several different strains of fine fescue grasses, such as red, hard and chewing fescue. They get their names from the long, slender blades of grass. Fine fescue type grows well in drought areas and in shade but cannot tolerate warm temperatures too well. 

4. Select high quality seeds

The next step is to use high-quality seeds, as this is one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners commit when they choose to overseed in the fall. Though it may increase the overall cost of overseeding, the excellent results are definitely worth paying a slightly higher price. 

You should check the weed or crop percentage in the seed for fescue blends. Make sure that the percentage is zero. In fact, cheap, low-quality fescue seeds often have weeds. You can check all the details of the fescue seeds on the bag, including:

  • Name of grass cultivar – This is listed on the label of the seed bag. Make sure to select the type which suits your climate and lawn soil. 
  • Germination percentage – Higher germination rates mean more seeds will successfully grow into grass. For tall fescue grass, you should select the one with at least 85% germination percentage, according to gardening experts at Eden. The germination percentage for fine fescue grass should be even higher than this. 
  • Weed seed percentage – Choose the fescue seed bag with low weed seed levels, usually less than 0.25%. 
  • Sell by date – Fresh seed mixtures usually have higher germination rate. Make sure to choose the seed package that is packed in the same year or next. 

Once you have selected the right type of fescue seed, according to the soil type and climate in your region, it is time to prepare the site for overseeding with fescue.

5. Prepare the overseeding site

You should begin by mowing the existing lawn so that the grass height is around 1.5 inches. This way, the new seedlings can compete on the same level as the existing grass and weeds. Cutting the grass short allows sunlight to reach the new seedlings and also prevents the seeds from getting stuck in the grass blades. It is highly advised to bag the grass clippings this time, instead of making them into mulch. Grass clippings can also prevent the seedlings from reaching the soil. 

Next, you should ensure that the thatch level is less than ¼ inches. Otherwise, seedlings may get stuck in the thatch and fail to reach the soil to grow. You can use a power rake, verticutter or aerator to de-thatch your lawn. Power rakes can effectively remove thatch which is around ½ inch mark while an aerator can remove thatch which is less than ½ inch thick. It also helps to reduce soil compaction in heavy soils. 

Besides this, you should also consider adding topsoil to improve germination. 

6. Apply fertilizer at the right time

According to gardening experts at Eden, you should wait for the soil temperature to reach between 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the best germination of fescue grass seeds. During this time, the day temperature will likely be around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

At this point, you should begin applying fertilizer as this is the only product you will need (apart from the seeds) to overseed the lawn with fescue. You can apply fertilizer while seeding as this will provide the seedlings with the necessary push to start germinating quickly. The existing grass also gets a boost in growth with fertilizer. 

7. Plant the seeds

You can consider your lawn to be ready for seeding when the soil is open, the fertilizer has been applied, the seedbed is moist, the temperature is right and you have the perfect fescue seed blend in hand. 

To apply seeds, you can use a drop-type grass seeder rather than using a rotary spreader or applying by hand. Check to ensure that the seeder is set to apply the correct amount of seed before starting. You will need to water the new seedlings regularly to keep the seedbed moist and allow quick germination. You can also choose to apply mulch of hay to retain soil temperature and prevent the seedlings from drying up. 


Once the fescue lawn starts growing you will need to nurse it for at least 2 months. Make sure to keep off foot traffic for a month and control weeds and other grass types from growing in the same patch. For more details on fescue overseeding, it is recommended to consult with gardening experts, such as Eden for best results. 

Enjoy a beautifully manicured lawn with our timely yard work services that care for your yard according to the season. Call us today!

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