Tall Fescue Grass: Maintaining Your Cool-Season Sod In The Heat of Summer

Tall Fescue Lawn Care

Fescue is a cool-season grass, that graces many lawns with its lush, green appearance. Known for its ability to thrive in cooler climates, fescue can face significant challenges when temperatures rise. As a homeowner, you may wonder how to keep your fescue lawn looking its best during the heat and drought. This blog post will guide you through essential strategies to maintain your cool-season turf when the heat is on.

Watering Strategies For This Turf-Type

When it comes to watering fescue in hot weather, the key is to water deeply and infrequently. This approach encourages the grass to develop a deep root system, which enhances its resilience to heat stress. Instead of light, daily watering, opt for a thorough soaking once or twice a week, depending on your local climate and soil conditions.

The best time for irrigation of your fescue lawn is early in the morning, ideally between 4 am and 10 am. This timing allows the water to penetrate the soil before the heat of the day sets in, reducing evaporation and giving your grass ample time to absorb the moisture. Watering in the evening can lead to prolonged moisture on the grass blades, potentially encouraging fungal growth on the turfgrass.

To determine if your lawn needs water, try the “footprint test.” Walk across your lawn and observe if your footprints remain visible. If the grass doesn’t spring back, it’s time to water. Aim to provide about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, adjusting as needed based on the rainfall and the temperature of the warmer season.

Mowing Techniques For a Tall Fescue Lawn

Proper mowing is also important for maintaining healthy fescue during hot weather. In summer, it’s best to keep your fescue on the taller side. Raise your mower blade to cut at a height of 3 to 4 inches. This extra height provides several benefits: it shades the soil, keeping it cooler and reducing water evaporation; it allows for deeper root growth; and it gives the grass more leaf surface to photosynthesize, helping it withstand stress and stay green.

As for mowing frequency, the general rule is to never remove more than one-third of the grass blade in a single mowing session. During peak growing seasons, this might mean mowing twice a week. However, in the heat of summer, fescue’s growth often slows down, so you may find yourself mowing less frequently, perhaps once a week or even every 10 days.

Remember to keep your mower blades sharp. Dull blades tear the grass instead of cutting it cleanly, leaving ragged edges that are more susceptible to water loss and disease. Also, try to mow when the grass is dry and during cooler parts of the day to minimize stress on both the grass and yourself.

Fertilization and Weed Control

Fertilization practices for fescue change with the seasons. While spring and fall are the primary fertilization periods for cool-season grasses, summer requires a more cautious approach. If you must fertilize during hot weather, use a slow-release, low-nitrogen fertilizer. This will provide a steady, gentle feeding without pushing excessive growth that the grass can’t sustain in the heat.

However, it’s generally best to avoid fertilizing fescue during the hottest part of summer. Instead, focus on proper watering and mowing to maintain your lawn’s health. If your grass is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, consider a soil test to determine what specific nutrients it might need.

Unlike warm-season grasses, such as St. Augustine, tall fescue does not have the same heat tolerance as other varieties of sod. This can lead to your fescue starting to thin out.  However, overseeding in the fall months should help mitigate the problem. 

Weed control in summer can be tricky, as many herbicides can stress fescue when temperatures are high. The best defense against weeds is a thick, healthy lawn. If weeds do appear, consider hand-pulling them rather than using chemical controls. If you must use herbicides, choose products specifically formulated for use on fescue in hot weather, and always follow the label instructions carefully.

Shade Management

Fescue is known for its shade tolerance, which can be a blessing during hot summers. Shade helps keep the soil cooler and reduces water evaporation. If your fescue lawn includes both sunny and shady areas, you may notice the grass in shaded spots faring better during heat waves.

For areas of your lawn that receive full sun, consider creating temporary shade during the hottest parts of the day. This could involve setting up shade cloths or even strategically placing patio umbrellas to provide relief during peak heat hours. While this may not be practical for large areas, it can help protect smaller, particularly vulnerable sections of your lawn.

Long-term, you might consider planting trees or large shrubs to provide natural shade for your fescue. This not only benefits your lawn but can also enhance your landscape’s overall aesthetic and potentially reduce your home’s cooling costs.

Where to Get Tall Fescue Turf in Orange County

When it comes to sourcing high-quality fescue sod for your Orange County lawn, give Quality Turf in San Jacinto a call! Our farm takes pride in cultivating lush, healthy fescue grass that is perfectly suited for the region’s climate. Our team carefully tends to the sod, making sure that it meets your standards before cutting and delivering it right to your home.

At Quality Turf, we understand the importance of starting with premium sod for a successful yard project. Our fescue grass is grown locally, allowing it to adapt to the unique growing conditions in Orange County. If you choose Quality Turf, you can rest easy knowing that your new lawn will establish quickly and maintain its vibrance with proper care.

In addition to our top-grade sod, Quality Turf also offers expert guidance on installation and maintenance. Our staff of experts is always available to answer questions and provide custom recommendations to ensure your fescue lawn thrives in the Orange County climate. With Quality Turf as your partner, you’ll have everything you need to create and maintain the most beautiful yard year-round.


Maintaining a healthy fescue lawn during hot weather requires attention and care, but the results are worth the effort. By implementing proper watering strategies, adjusting your mowing techniques, being cautious with fertilization and weed control, and managing shade, you can help your cool-season grass weather the heat.

Remember, even with the best care, fescue may naturally go dormant during extreme heat or drought. This is a normal survival mechanism, and the grass will typically green up again when temperatures cool and moisture returns. Be patient with your lawn, and don’t be tempted to overwater or overfertilize in an attempt to green it up during these stress periods.

With these strategies in your lawn care toolkit, you’ll be well-equipped to keep your fescue looking its best, even when the thermometer climbs. Your dedication will pay off with a lush, green lawn that remains the envy of the neighborhood throughout the summer months and beyond.

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