As fall ebbs into winter, most grasses go dormant. Once the temperatures reach a certain point, the grasses stop growing, pausing for the winter months before starting growth again in the spring. Every grass is different, as there are warm-season and cool-season grasses, each of which thrives in different scenarios.
Several types of fescue, including fine fescue and tall fescue, are cool-season grasses, meaning these grasses thrive in areas with cold winters and hot summers. We’ll take a deeper look at fescue and its preferences, so continue reading to learn more!
Does Fescue Grow In Cold Weather?
No, cool-season grasses, like several types of fescue, don’t grow in the winter. Once the temperature reaches a certain point, the grass will go dormant. For grasses like tall fescue, the dormancy period begins when temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this point, the grasses stop growing altogether for the winter months. The roots of tall fescue store carbohydrates for the following year’s growth. So, once the temperature rises and the cold weather is gone, your lawn will begin growing again, provided it’s still healthy.
How Do You Prepare Fescue For Winter?
While you can skip winter lawn preparations altogether, the few extra steps help keep your lawn healthy during the winter months. This helps your lawn bounce back better in the spring.
Adjust The Soil
It doesn’t hurt to test your soil every once in a while to ensure it’s well balanced. You can send a soil sample to a testing laboratory, which will test the contents of your soil and look for deficiencies. By testing your soil, you can isolate any nutrient or pH deficiencies that could contribute to poor lawn health. Once you determine what your lawn needs, make the proper adjustments.
Fall is an excellent time of year to make any necessary nutrient and pH adjustments.
It’s generally recommended to fertilize your lawn regularly to promote its health. Fall is a great time to fertilize your lawn, as temperatures are typically cooler, often dipping close to the 50s or lower.
Adding fertilizer at this point helps your grass retain its green color in the winter and promotes healthy root growth. Solid root growth helps the grass start well in the spring.
If the ground is already frozen, don’t fertilize your lawn, as the nutrients won’t enter the root zone, where they need to be.
Loosen The Soil
Aerated soil is ideal for healthy, vigorous lawn growth. As you prepare your lawn for the upcoming winter, it doesn’t hurt to ensure the soil is properly aerated. If your yard experiences a significant amount of traffic, there’s a good chance the soil will be somewhat compact.
A core aerator will remove small plugs of soil from your lawn, allowing air, water, and nutrients to easily reach the roots. Before you aerate the soil, ensure it’s moist but not soggy.
If your grass is still growing, you’ll need to continue mowing. In some cases, the temperatures may remain warm into fall, so you’ll have to mow until late fall. You can mow over fallen leaves as they decompose rapidly and add essential organic matter to the soil.
If the leaves are wet, refer to our guide here. Remember to avoid taking more than ⅓ of the grass blade off at a single time.
Clean Up Debris
Before snow strikes, go through and pick up all of the debris from your lawn. This includes excess toys, leaves, sticks, and other debris. Consider using a tool to clean up your yard if there are quite a few small sticks, twigs, and dry leaves.
You can use a lawn sweeper, which features a bristled brush to pick up the miscellaneous parts on your lawn. Or, rake the debris into a pile and move it into bags to dispose of. Leftover toys and other large items can smother the grass, so it’s essential to clean up the lawn before winter takes hold and snow covers everything.
Does Fescue Go Dormant In The Summer?
If you live in a climate with sweltering summers, you might notice that your fescue grass lawn slows growth considerably in the summer. Although some folks might confuse this for dormancy, the grass may still be growing.
Fescue grasses, like tall fescue, generally thrive in cooler temperatures. When the temperatures get too high, the grass growth slows considerably. Fescue tends to have a tougher time flourishing in extreme weather conditions, often experiencing stress due to heat and drought.
Dormancy is a way for grasses to avoid stress, so if your area is experiencing severe heat and drought, your lawn may go dormant. When grass returns to an inactive state, it won’t look green, losing its bright vibrancy and turning yellow, brown, tan, or pale.
Once the temperatures drop out of the extreme range, the grass will begin to recover and return to green. Of course, there are ways to help prevent extreme stress. For example, properly caring for the grass in high temperatures can help prevent dormancy. Proper maintenance and regular watering will help ensure the grass retains its bright green color and luster.
However, if the temperatures get too high, even a regular watering schedule might not be enough to keep fescue on a regular growth and health schedule.