Return to the Lawn Care Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Posted by GrowSomeGrass (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 11:19

Guys, I've tried both.

KBG doesnt do well at all where I live. I get a fungus every year. I had grubs 2 years ago. It goes dormant in the summer and turns brown etc. It gets burnt easily.

However, in May/June and Sep, it does well and looks fantastic. I love the texture/color. I love the fact that the lawn repairs itself. It just looks so lush.

On the tall fescue side, it grows much better. Stronger, deeper roots, less disease etc.

However, I really dont like the texture on my feet and it doesnt spread so needs to be reseeded every other year.

If I had a TF with KBG texture and spreading properties, then I would be in heaven.

With that said, what do plant? What does a full ~4 year old tall fescue lawn look like/feel like? My lawn is only 2 years old.

Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Ok, so I was doing some research via the NTEP rankings (I never knew this existed). I never even thought about buying seed from a private cultivator.

So how hard is it to buy this seed and how expensive is it vs a bag of Pennington at HD for $50.

For example, Burlingham Seeds has a Turbo TF seed that did well in the NTEP tests. If I wanted to overseed a 5k sq ft lawn, how much are we talking here? What would stuff like this cost (I have no idea). Thanks.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

TTTF seeding rates look to be 5-10 pounds per thousand square feet.

Although I found Turbo, I didn't find Turbo TF seed for sale--and where I found it is not the most economical. From there, it was $60 for 10 pounds.

Math, math math...that would be $150-$300 for the seed from that one particular (rather high-priced) place.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Ideally, you should plant a MIX of Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, .., and TURF-TYPE Tall Fescue.

All of these grasses will make for a nicely colored/textured lawn ... and the different grasses will excel at different times of the year.

In my lawn, the Perennial Ryegrass greens up first in the Spring, the Bluegrass follows in the later spring, and the TURF-TYPE Fescue STAYS GREEN during the hot summer months.

I got my TURF-TYPE Tall Fescue at the link. I didn't have much luck finding it at any of the local hardware stores.

Here is a link that might be useful: TURF-TYPE Tall Fescue Link


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Are blends truly the way to go? What you are saying makes perfect sense, but dont the different grass species compete and mess around with each other?

I called Pennington. Their TF/KBG blend is 90% TF and 10% KBG.

What type of % split would you recommend for the blend?

Also, how do I know what cultivators are in the Pennington TF bag? They would not disclose this on the phone.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>Ideally, you should plant a MIX of Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, .., and TURF-TYPE Tall Fescue.

On the down side, growth rates and color will differ. If this drives you nuts (it does me!) then this is not a great option for you.

I have a monostand of Kentucky bluegrass. But I don't have a monoculture; I used one KBG from each elite dwarf family. Each has different resistances to diseases and insects, and slightly different tolerances.

Color and growth rates are well-matched, however, so the lawn looks like a carpet until it exceeds five inches tall and the color is a consistent very dark green.

One cultivar performs better in winter, two in summer, so I always have a lot of green. All perform well in spring and fall.

If you're not prepared to take some care with maintenance and watching for diseases, a monostand probably isn't for you. Then it's better to mix species.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Guys is it possible to get a KBG cultivator that has the same disease resistance properties as TTFF?

Look at the NTEP ratings, the more resistant cultivators score around ~8, which is around the same score as the tall fescues. Does this mean they about the same resistance to disease?


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>Guys is it possible to get a KBG cultivator that has the same disease resistance properties as TTFF?

Sort of. My KBG is superior in disease resistance to the surrounding neighbors' tri-mix lawns (KBG [precious little of that], fescue, and rye).

The diseases that my KBG will be susceptible to are different than what TTTF will be, however, and there are certainly some diseases where my KBG will take more damage than TTTF.

And there are some diseases my KBG is more resistant to, or where it'll take less damage.

Modern, well-bred grasses tend to have good disease resistance because that's one of the goals. The stuff you get in the standard Scott's bag (or even Pennington or Rebel) tends not to be modern or well-bred. It's what produces a lot of seed that can be sold nationwide.

>>Look at the NTEP ratings, the more resistant cultivators score around ~8, which is around the same score as the tall fescues. Does this mean they about the same resistance to disease?

Approximately. Overall, disease resistance on both is very good to excellent, but some diseases will strike one that the other is not susceptible to.

For this reason, mixing cultivars in your lawn is a very good idea. Midnight II KBG is a great grass, but I added Moonlight and Bedazzled (available at the time) to round out resistance to diseases, insects, and environment.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>Are blends truly the way to go? What you are saying makes perfect sense, but dont the different grass species compete and mess around with each other?
I called Pennington. Their TF/KBG blend is 90% TF and 10% KBG.

Yes, they do. Over time, fescues (which are non-spreading clump grasses) die out and the KBG dominates.

Have too much rye in the initial mix and the lawn ends up being rye.

Just because they look good together does not make them friends. :-)

>>Also, how do I know what cultivators are in the Pennington TF bag? They would not disclose this on the phone.

You don't, although it may be listed on the bag label. For the most part, retail seed isn't going to be the best (or even very good) cultivars as the older, cheaper ones seed out better and are less expensive at the register.

I think Scott's is still using Abbey bluegrass, which has been around for ages. It's OK, don't get me wrong, but turf quality, disease resistance, color, and winter performance aren't up to snuff with modern cultivars.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

I was looking at the NTEP ratings. They have a report from 2007-2011. Thats 5 years or analysis.

With that said, if I pick a cultivator off that list, how does it work? Do they still have those seeds available from 2007, or do they continue the strain and have fresh seeds available in 2013 for example (that were the 2006 line). Sorry to sound dumb but I have no idea how this works.

For example, if I go purely on the numbers, Turbo from 2006 scored well in my area and looks decent. But if I call the company and order Turbo, am I getting that vintage Turbo (from 2006), or am I getting a modified 2013 Turbo derivative, because in the 2013 NTEP report, Turbo doesnt even show up!!!!! Im so confused.

This post was edited by GrowSomeGrass on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 13:36


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

You can get seed from The Hogan Company in Tennessee. I purchased seed from them back in the fall and have been extremely happy with the results. They have a lot of the cultivars listed by the NTEP. Per pound they are in line with the better seed at the box stores as far as the price goes but the quality is better. The shipping is what makes it more expensive but again, the better quality is worth it. The other problem is they have a 50lbs minimum which really isn't a problem unless you have a really small lawn. The guy there to talk to is Bob Hogan (yes, he's the owner). Super nice guy and can answer most if not all of the questions you have about the seed.

I did a full reno last year using Bullseye, Turbo, and Hemi from Hogan. The quality, texture and color are far better than any seed I've bought at Lowe's.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>For example, if I go purely on the numbers, Turbo from 2006 scored well in my area and looks decent. But if I call the company and order Turbo, am I getting that vintage Turbo (from 2006), or am I getting a modified 2013 Turbo derivative, because in the 2013 NTEP report, Turbo doesnt even show up!!!!! Im so confused.

You'd get Turbo that was gathered in 2013 for 2014 shipment (properly stored, that's not any issue at all).

However, the genetics will be pretty much the same as Turbo was in 2006. If they differ too much, they'll give the new cultivar a different name and re-test it. You'll see a lot of that with the numeric entries in the report--they're not named cultivars just yet, but might be if they perform well.

Midnight II is a staple that's been around for a while--for good reason. It's a great grass. Nowadays there are Midnight crossbreeds that perform a bit better, but Midnight II still has its place.

>>I did a full reno last year using Bullseye, Turbo, and Hemi from Hogan. The quality, texture and color are far better than any seed I've bought at Lowe's.

This. The worst of the well-bred seeds is going to outperform the best stuff you can buy at any big box store.

Cultivar choice is always a challenge, so a local supplier who can help you with what will do well in your area is a must.

If TTTF is your idea of a great lawn, go for it. No arguments here, I just prefer (and know) the Kentucky bluegrass cultivars much better. We all have a personal preference; mine is for blue-green turf that looks like it's growing on a sod farm.

KBG performs well in eastern Pennsylvania because I'm central transitional and willing to put the effort required into it. There's no argument from me that TTTF is easier in many ways (but it does lack drought resistance, so mind that--left unwatered in a drought, it doesn't have much of a dormancy mechanism and will simply die).


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Morpheus, you've got my curiousity stirred up. For one, I went with TTTF mainly because that's what I know and is the primary choice of turf grass in my area. In my reading it seemed that KBG was less drought tolerant than TTTF. I have 20k square feet which is a big deal to water properly. My water bill would be astronomical during the summer months keeping anything green. Outside of June, July, and August there is usually no need to water but these three months are typically very dry. I water just enough to keep it alive. From March to May it was absolutely beautiful deep dark green but right now it's much lighter and even tan in some spots.

Could it be that KBG would be a better choice for me? I know from reading here and other forums that you are definitely the KBG guru so any comparisons and other info would be really appreciated. I will need to overseed this fall so would overseeding KBG into the TTTF lawn be a good idea? Would this eventually lead to a full KBG lawn? I'm open to ideas.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>KBG was less drought tolerant than TTTF.

It is, very much less drought tolerant. KBG will show wilting long before TTTF will.

KBG is more drought resistant than TTTF. It simply goes dormant, waiting for the rain to return. TTTF, left dry, will eventually just up and die. So will KBG, but 1/4" of water every 2 weeks is enough to keep the roots alive. Dormancy can continue for 12 weeks, but losses will start to mount. 8 is the usual maximum given, although I've seen it go a lot longer than that with that incidental watering every now and again.

That having been said, my established KBG has been watered twice this year. So much of this is related to how you treat the grass and how you treat your soil. I've pushed mine to very high organic matter levels, which store water like nobody's business and won't let it go easily to evaporation (but a root can exert enough ionic pull to grab the water with no problems).

I attached pictures of my lawn (follow the link to my blog as you can see the entire history if you wish to peruse back that far). It's hardly shabby, but this is not a good year. We've ping-ponged between bone dry and soaking wet.

>>I water just enough to keep it alive. From March to May it was absolutely beautiful deep dark green but right now it's much lighter and even tan in some spots.

Ditto. Keep in mind, I'm somewhat north of you, just a wee little bit. I'm not sure if KBG would be a good choice for North Carolina.

>> I will need to overseed this fall so would overseeding KBG into the TTTF lawn be a good idea? Would this eventually lead to a full KBG lawn? I'm open to ideas.

The two don't argue with each other directly, so that's not an issue. The KBG, if well-fed (we're talking 4 to 6 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet per year) will fill in holes as the TTTF dies out from age. That process isn't fast; there are certainly thirty year old TTTF tufts out there, I've seen some.

Growth rates will differ, almost certainly, so that may drive you crazy. Color is going to differ, and the look of the grasses is very different as well. I never felt that tri-mix (fescue, rye, KBG) was a good choice for anybody, but they do that to get one grass to grow in an area, at least.

Again, I'm not sure about KBG that far south. Lexington, from the map, feels like it should be OK-but-borderline, and your altitude (800 feet+) speaks well for putting in KBG. Current temperatures and overall average temperatures are fine for it, and KBG when established in good soil should stay green all winter (mine does up here). Rainfall levels are perfectly acceptable.

By the way, you have rainfall moving in. Best grab an umbrella for later this evening.

If you absolutely forced me to pick three modern cultivars, I'd go with Midnight, Prosperity, and Boutique.

You can freely substitute Midnight II or Midnight Star for Midnight, they're all close enough.

Those are three extremely dark cultivars, so consider that before you do this. When mature, they'll have that thundery dark green look that my lawn has in spring and fall (all grasses lighten in summer)..

Also, tolerance for weather their first year isn't as good as it will be later on (true of any grass), so watering the first summer will be required. I never recommend dormancy the first year if it can be avoided, and if it can't, keep it short. The grass doesn't have the root depth and resources it will later on.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Blog, With Photos


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Thanks for the info! Looks like I'll stick with the TTTF for now. With this being the first summer since the reno I was expecting to run into a few issues here and there. We have had an unusual summer with temps well into the 90's much earlier than normal along with a lack of rain. Oh, and that rain it looked like we would get this evening turned out to be only a sprinkle but more is in the forecast along with temps in the low 80's.

As it stands now, there are only a few spots that are thin and need overseeding and a couple small fist sized areas that are bare. Hopefully that won't change much by the end of summer. I've got compost to work into the worst areas and have have been adding OM to the lawn all year by way of alfalfa, milo and used coffee grounds trying to improve the soil. So far it's definitely helping. My only synthetic feeding will be the last one in November although I might hit an application in September depending on how it looks and the rain situation.

Getting it through its first year has been a bit of a challenge but so far it's been well worth it from all the compliments. Just wish I had a more cost effective way to get it through the summer. My wife isn't fond of the $100 water bills.


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

>>My wife isn't fond of the $100 water bills.

I'm hoping that's monthly because mine run $400 for the quarter even if I don't give the lawn a single drop (2,000 square feet of gardens chew water like mad).

First years are always a challenge with any lawn! Definitely water to keep drought off as the lawn's young, but other than that it's "wait it out" mode until fall!


 o
RE: Pennington Tall Fescue vs KBG (Mass, zone 7)

Guys, The key for these 2 species is to focus on issues that your turf faces due to your climate and site. For disease in the Northeast, KB is typically most susceptible to Summer Patch while tall fescue is likely to experience Brown Patch. When evaluating data from the NTEP site, take a look at both site and zone data. Getting caught up in the overall TQ data can be problematic as the numbers are summarized from all zones. They also provide data based on level of maintenance. Another key is to consider the LSD number included in the summary. The statistical difference between a 6 and 8 is negligible if the LSD is a 2. Also don't get to hung up on how old the trial data is. I planted my first KB NTEP in 1985 and believe me, the data is still valid. The thoughts on mixes are good and TF and KB certainly are compatible when the KB's at 5-10%. If PR is also part of that equation, 10% tops as it and the TF will likely segregate after a year or two. As for selection of varieties, the vast majority of current TF cultivars are strong with few significant differences to be found. Disease is by far the biggest factor and wild card in terms of damage and loss of turf. Keep an eye on the Brown Patch data for TF and it will serve you best. Same can be said for Summer Patch data on the blues. Good luck, PG78


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Lawn Care Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here