Fescue vs. Kentucky Bluegrass

PW25September 20, 2012

I live in Lincoln, NE and this summer was a drought that also had water restrictions for our city, so my backyard and frontyard have turned to a brownish color rather than the normal, healthy green.

I am going to plant some seed this weekend, but had a few questions.

Should I do fescue or Kentucky bluegrass? I have no kids and 1 small dog.

Which grass is it that is the soft kind when you touch or lay on it?

I don't own a tiller or aerator. Can I still lay the seed?

Should I water the yard before I rake up the soil?

Do I need to buy top soil or what kind of soil do I need?

I have quite a large backyard. Would it be harmful to just plant all across the yard, even on some areas that don't need seeding? Should I apply more seed to bare spots and thin spots?

I really am not sure what type of grass I currently have. Will it hurt my grass if I plant 2 different types?

Does fescue give a nice look to it like KBG?

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goren

Since you mention the use of Kentucky Blue I'm going to assume you wish to use a 'cool season' type grass.
Generally, if a type of lawn turf has problems....i.e. turns brown when water is at a premium, or tends to die out during heat spells, or some other problem that is perplexing a homeowner....the usual advice is to try to overcome the problem by planting a seed that is not affected by what troubles the one type....so, and I'm sure the seed dealer will agree, plant a combination of grass seeds so that each can give its best when times are tough on one.
A good combination for cool season type grass is 40% Kentucky Blue, 30% perennial ryegrass and 30% red fescue.
Combinations approaching those percentages are found anywhere and everywhere so you shouldn't have any trouble finding.

Its generally agreed that before you overseed an area that has already a lawn, correct any imperfections the ground might have...i.e. fill in with topsoil any depressions, any mounds that can be rolled and thus levelled, any bare patches that are best fixed with plugs....etc etc.
A toplayering of 1/2" to 1" topsoil or compost or triple mix...you decide...is laid either before, or after the scattering of the seed.
Sometimes seed is administered with the fertilizer spreader...a starter fertilizer can be considered and applied with the seed.
Scattering by hand is easy as long as you apply a generous amount to the area. Seed is not inexpensive....but for a good turf it is recommended that you apply the best seed you can afford...it pays dividends in the end.

If you are having to buy the topsoil...and your area is large...you can trust this formulae to find out exactly how much soil you would have to purchase.
If the amount is large, then buying IN BULK is the least expensive.
Measure the area you intend to work...length times width...
IN FEET. That gives you square feet...multiply that times the depth IN INCHES....then multiply that figure times 3....and divide by 1000.
That results in the number of cubic yards of soil you have to buy to cover the area.

example...if the area is 25 feet by 50 ft..equals 1250 sq ft
times depth..1" = 1250 X 3 = 3750 divided by 1000 =- 3.75 cubic yards of soil.
Such amount is best bought in bulk...delivered by truck to your driveway--then by wheelbarrow to the area.

If the area is wanted to be leveled first, then rolling can be done. Rolling can also be done AFTER the seeding process to better put the seed into contact with the soil.

Overseeding is ..for me anyway...a ritual I follow every fall. It encourages strong turf that stands up to adversity...disease and pests.
Generally, if you follow a regimen of fertilizing...the high nitrogen content can speed up filling in bare spots and greening up.
Going cheap on the feeding program encourages weak growth...and if winter throws a hard freeze early, it can make for spring problems.

Watering is also not cheap. But again watering is necessary for the grass roots to grow strong...so the usual recommendation of 1" of water (rain notwithstanding) per week is the norm and helps grass grow lushly.
Only by experimenting with how you apply water can you learn about what your lawn needs.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 6:59PM
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tiemco

I will try to answer your questions since Goren has given his usual stock answers that are misleading and awkward to read.

Should I do fescue or Kentucky bluegrass? I have no kids and 1 small dog.

This is a questions that doesn't have a simple answer. They both make nice lawns in full sun, tall fescue does much better in shadier areas. Tall fescue is quick to germinate and establish, while KBG takes longer, and time is not on your side at this point in the summer. Tall fescue doesn't really spread all that much, KBG can spread to fill voids in the turf. Tall fescue can tolerate heat better and can go longer without water, but has a short dormancy, then death occurs. KBG can go dormant for long stretches, returning to green when the weather cools and the rains come. As you can see they have their strengths and weaknesses. Since you are seeding late in the summer, I would either go all tall fescue, or a tall fescue/ Kentucky bluegrass mix.

Which grass is it that is the soft kind when you touch or lay on it?

KBG is very soft bladed. It makes the finest turf in most cases. The newer tall fescues are soft as well, but not as soft as KBG.

I don't own a tiller or aerator. Can I still lay the seed?

Yes, you don't need to till or aerate. If you have a lot of dead grass and thatch you can use a power rake to remove the dead stuff and expose the soil.

Should I water the yard before I rake up the soil?

It will keep the dust down, and soften up the dead stuff, but it's not necessary.

Do I need to buy top soil or what kind of soil do I need?

No, unless you have no topsoil in your yard. If your topsoil is lacking, or you have some leveling to do you should. A good weed free loam (40:40:20 sand, silt, clay) makes a good topsoil.

I have quite a large backyard. Would it be harmful to just plant all across the yard, even on some areas that don't need seeding? Should I apply more seed to bare spots and thin spots?

Yes, you can do that without harm. You want to use the overseeding rate on areas of grass, the new seeding rate on bare areas. This is easy to do with a spreader.

I really am not sure what type of grass I currently have. Will it hurt my grass if I plant 2 different types?

It won't hurt, but you might end up with an inconsistent lawn.

Does fescue give a nice look to it like KBG?

Yes, the newer turf type tall fescues are dark green, fine bladed, and thick. Here is a link to another thread with pics of my lawn last year. http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lawns/msg0621330425292.html

I hope these answers help, and if you have more questions don't be afraid to ask them.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 8:09PM
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grass1950

Nice reply tiemco.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 8:50PM
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PW25

Thank you for your responses! You have given very helpful information and I greatly appreciate it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 9:07AM
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tiemco

If you want to seed those areas, you have to get that dead grass out of the way so the seed can lie on the dirt. I would power rake the whole yard to get all that removed before seeding. I can't tell the grass type however, you need close up pics of the blades for that, and they have to be clear pictures, not blurry.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:35PM
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PW25

Okay. Yeah it was taken from my phone. You give me a good idea of what I need to do, though. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:41PM
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