Tulsa Lawn Care Update – Prepare to Seed Fescue…Or Not
The time is soon approaching to overseed existing fescue grass or to seed fescue grass in a bare area. The optimum time for seeding is mid-September to mid-October. It’s always good to plan ahead, because sometimes you “just don’t get around to it” and then it’s too late. (I speak from experience on that…)
But first, let’s take a look at your fescue now. Most fescue doesn’t look so hot right now, because it’s August. This is probably the worst it will look all year. Our climate here in Tulsa is simply too hot for fescue, which is why we grow it in the shade. In cooler climates, it will grow in full sun.
In Tulsa, fescue’s growing season starts in September when the temperatures start to cool down. Then, the leaves fall off the trees, and the fescue gets all the sun it needs to make food for itself and build up carbohydrate reserves to last it through the hot, shady summer with little to no sun.
Fescue grass MUST be overseeded each fall to keep it looking healthy, because the heat makes some of it die out over the summer.
Some people find this task unpalatable to say the least, especially if you have large areas of fescue. We would be happy to do that chore for you.
You NEED to seed or overseed fescue if you want nice-looking grass in these areas:
- Areas under trees where your bermuda grass has thinned out due to too much shade
- Bare areas under trees due to too much shade
- Areas between houses where bermuda has thinned out due to too much shade
- Existing areas of fescue grass
You should NOT seed fescue if:
- You don’t want two different colors of green in your lawn (“bermuda green” in the sun and “fescue green” under the trees.)
- You don’t want to mow your lawn at two different heights in the summer (short for bermuda, long for fescue.)
- You don’t want to mow late into fall and early in spring (when fescue is actively growing and your bermuda is going dormant or still dormant.)
- You have a bare area in total shade year round. Fescue grows best in dappled sunlight, or at the least where it will get mostly full sun in the fall and winter when the leaves are off the trees.
If you decide you don’t want to seed fescue at all, then you have several alternatives to make your shady landscape look its best without grass.
- Shade garden
- Something else - a seating area on pavers, a fountain, a water feature, birdfeeders and bird baths, etc.
Groundcover is the easiest, hands down! There are many lovely groundcovers that are perennials , which means you plant them once, and they spread and look beautiful forevermore, with very little maintenance. Just be sure you contain it to the area where you want it with rocks or some kind of garden edging, readily available at any Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Here are a few ground cover suggestions:
This lovely ground cover comes in several varieties. Some have shiny leaves, and some have leaves with a matte finish. Pachysandra is hardy and evergreen and it spreads. It stays low to the ground and looks very neat.
This hardy classic ivy grows fast and spreads fast. You have to trim it back if it starts to climb something or tries to edge out into the yard. Just check it once every couple of months and snip off anything out of bounds.
Picture from Wikipedia
Creeping Wire Plant
This unusual groundcover Muehlenbeckia axillaris is evergreen and spreading and the stems look like wire. It’s very attractive and stays very low, but like the English ivy, be sure to trim it back if it reaches out into your lawn.
Picture by Kirt Stuber from Wikimedia
Vinca is another fast growing and spreading groundcover, but it’s a little taller and can grow up to 18” tall. It’s very hardy and bears little purple flowers in the spring. If it gets out of hand, you can mow over it, and it will come right back.
So, determine whether or not you want to seed fescue. If you do, and you want to do it yourself, please see our Fall Fescue Seeding page for helpful info. If you do, and you DON'T want to do it yourself, give us a call or go to our Fall Fescue Seeding Estimate page for a free estimate.
In the meantime, be sure your entire lawn is watered sufficiently in this heat!
In the next blog, we'll explore some easy plants for shade gardens!