Fine fescues (Festuca spp.)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers


Fine fescues
Festuca spp.

Hard fescue (Festuca longifolia)
Hard fescue (Festuca longifolia)
Life Cycle and Growth Habit

There are four predominant fine fescue species in the turfgrass market. The bunch-types are Chewings, hard, and sheep, while creeping red is a rhizomatous type. Since these species are difficult to distinguish from one another and occupy much the same environmental niche, they are discussed together here. As a group, the fine fescues are consideredcool-season perennials, sometimes with weak/short rhizomes.

Regional Adaptation
Cool humid
Cool semiarid
The best cool-season grasses for dry, shaded areas; often mixed with Kentucky bluegrasses and perennial ryegrasses fordry, shaded areas. Well-drained, droughty, infertile, acid soil; light to moderate shade.


Light Requirements
Can tolerate partial sun/shade
Best Suited for These Uses/Sites
Lawns, parks, utility settings especially in light to moderate shade. Avoid use in heavily trafficked areas or athletic settings.  One of the best choices for shaded areas.


Low; mow frequently (depending on use), normal lawn heights are 2 to 3 inches; supply 1 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per growing season; supply water as necessary; watch creeping types for thatch development; disease prone, especially when grown in moist, high-fertility settings.


Seeding (3 to 5 pounds per 1000 sq. ft.). In mixes with Kentucky bluegrass use 30 to 50 percent red fescue seed by weight.



Refer to the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) website ( for additional varieties and performance data atvarious locations. Look for trial sites and maintenance levels most similar to your own.


Pests and Problems
Additional Notes
Planted in un-mowed golf course roughs to give "links" appearance. Susceptible to diseases in full sun; slow recuperative rate from injury; avoid wet sites; intolerant of some herbicides.


Related Resources
General Lawn Maintenance
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
Illinois Commercial Landscape and Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic