Establish a home lawn with cool-season grass

By Gregg Eyestone

Now is the best time to plant cool-season grass.

The soil temperature is warm for quick seed germination. Air temperatures should be coming down to the favorable growing of below 86 degrees for tall fescue and bluegrass. Light duration is reducing day by day. September is the optimum month to grow these grasses.

It has been 10 years since I established my cool-season lawn. I mixed turf-type tall fescue and bluegrass at planting. A mix would be 90 percent tall fescue and 10 percent bluegrass. Bluegrass seed is smaller and therefore is more seed per pound than tall fescue. Bare ground in full sun can support eight pounds of tall fescue seed per 1,000 square feet of area.

My lawn is patches of bluegrass with fescue here and there. I’m OK with it, but some may not like that look. My bluegrass spots in the shade have remained green all summer. It went dormant early in the full sun areas and now even the tall fescue is dormant.

The lawn looks pretty good in the spring. It normally takes the bluegrass until then to recover from the heat of summer. Watering it during the summer would make it look better, but I don’t water my lawn.

Grass seed and sod needs good contact with the soil to take off. Seed can be cut into the soil by using a rake or verticutter machine.

These can be rented or a lawn company can do the planting for you.

A fertilizer is not usually needed at planting but is preferred. The grass will grow faster by using a starter fertilizer product. It is generally suggested to apply it at planting. Soil testing would identify if it were necessary or simply beneficial.

Keeping the site moist is critical for the grass to take hold. Watering three times a day may be necessary for the first two weeks.

As the grass grows, the goal is to get the grass watered with an inch of moisture once a week. Allowing the soil to dry will promote deep rooting.

Mowing, fertilizing and watering when necessary will get you a decent lawn. From there, it differs from site and expectations how the lawn will perform.

My method works for me. Additional information on growing a lawn is available at

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