bluegrass vs. fescue

jay412June 10, 2008

I saw this question but I am confused as it relates to my yard, so I submit my version.....I bought a new house and need a yard....the yard I am given is bluegrass but I can pay and "upgrade" to fescue....I live in Missouri where temps can reach the 100s and is humid....the front yard is in the sun in the afternoon to evening and the back yard gets the sun in the evening....i have 1 3 year old who loves playing outside in the grass and 1 small dog.....My lawn guy and relatives say you gotta go with fescue and that anything else isn't even worth it.....I will most likely have an irrigation system but have not fully committed myself to that, though my wife has.......I have been told, again, by my lawn guy that bluegrass is really bad basically, but it is about 1000 bucks cheaper and since i just moved into the house and have spent a bunch already, I am not ecstatic to spend more......I'm just nervous that if I stick with bluegrass, it is going to get diseased and die.....is bluegrass really all that bad???? and what are the main advantages and disadvantages to fescue over bluegrass?

thank you so much for all replies.

jay412

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bpgreen(5UT)

Bluegrass (often referred to as KBG here, short for Kentucky Bluegrass) isn't bad. In fact many people prefer it to fescues. It has really good color and will fill in bare spots through specialized roots called rhizomes.

The disadvantage to KBG is that it needs more water than fescue does. Fescue can develop deeper roots than KBG and can stay green with less water (or stay green longer without water) than KBG.

There are several types of fescue used for lawns. Tall fescue is one type that is often used for lawns, but most tall fescue will not spread if any dies, so it needs to be overseeded periodically. One older type of tall fescue has wider blades and I don't care much for it. That variety is K31 (sometimes Ky31). Newer tall fescue varieties are nicer looking in my opinion. There are also some newer varieties that spread, although more slowly than KBG.

Fine fescues are fine bladed, and at least one type is a spreading grass like KBG. The spreading type is creeping red fescue (it's not red in color, though).

Are you getting sod or seed? The reason I ask is that if you seed now (or in the near future) it's going to be very difficult to keep either KBG or fescue healthy through the summer. Sod can be planted just about any time if you can water it until it gets established.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 11:23PM
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colonel428

Jay, there are a couple of good seed blends on the market that have the Tall Fescue with KBG mixed in. The ratio is like 90% fescue to 10% bluegrass in most cases. I've got a fescue yard here that I started from scratch a couple of falls ago. I've been happy with the fescue, especially given the fact we're in the midst of a nearly 2 yr long drought & I wasn't able to overseed last fall or this spring due to watering restrictions. I tell you the truth, I thought about 75% of it was dead last fall. But, when the weather cooled off & we finally got a "little" rain a lot of it came back to life. Heck, I'm locked in to overseed it this fall (even if I have to sneak out at night & drag the hoses around to keep it wet). I'll most likely use the fescue/KBG mix because I love the color & texture & of the fescue & the KGB gives the yard at least some degree of repairability thru the rihzomes (important for me having dogs that pee on it). Lebanon Seed has a blend called Winning Colors Plus that I would highly recommend looking at. The website is lebsea.com. Anyway, good luck with the yard & have that irrigation system installed before you sod or seed :)....

Steve

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 2:41AM
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bpgreen(5UT)

Keep in mind that those seed mixes are by weight, not seed count, so 90% fescue to 10% KBG is more like 60-40 in terms of number of seeds. And since the fescue doesn't fill in bare spots, over time, the lawn becomes more and more KBG.

Make sure the fescue is a good one that looks "right" with KBG. If the fescue in the mix is K31, it grows much faster than KBG and you end up with a patchy looking lawn.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:31AM
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Billl(z7 nc)

KBG certainly isn't bad. In fact, it's the king of grasses north of the mason dixon line. It's got thin blades, nice green color, and fills in to make a dense turf. The down side is that it takes consistent watering in summer to keep it green.

Fescue is a "clumping" grass. That means each individual plant stays distinct. You get a lawn by planting a bunch of grasses very close to each other. To keep it looking good, you have to overseed fescue periodically. The upside is that fescue naturally grows very deep roots. That means it tends to stand up to prolonged heat and drought better.

BTW - you can just seed fescue right over your KBG if you want. You'll end up with a mix of both. You'll want to pick a tall fescue that has thin blades and slow to moderate growth habit (not K31!) Just wait until the end of summer. Cut the grass short, aerate, and seed. The aerator rental will be $75 bucks or so and seed will depend on how big of an area you have but should be under $100 for a suburban size lot.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 2:19PM
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eddie_il

Jay - Sound like they are trying to take you for a ride. That is ludicrous that they would try to charge $1000 more for fescue if its seed. If its sod, it could be because of availability. I'm not sure if this is through the builder or a lawn service company. The difference in seed cost is minimal. Maybe you can give more info on the situation so we can give better advice.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:38PM
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jimmygiii

Good call Eddie. If it's seed, then $1,000 more is insane! Fescue seed germinates much faster than KBG (7-14 days 21-28) and Fescue establishes much faster too. If it's sod, then they're definitely taking you for a ride, because establishing of the faster germination and establishing of Fescue over KBG.

I'm in Alabama, and a pallet of sod (450 sq ft) sells for $100 - $200 depending on what type of grass it is. I don't know prices for soil prep and laying of sod, but I bet it ain't cheap.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 1:14AM
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