How to Get the Most Out of Your Fall Fescue Lawn Renovation

Fescue lawns in the Raleigh, NC area can suffer some damage during the summer from drought, heat, fungus, lawn equipment, pests, pets, or playtime. Fall is the season to fix the damage and get your Fescue lawn looking its best. Between about early/mid-September and mid-October in the Raleigh, NC area is the best time for Fescue grass seed to germinate, and Fescue seedlings that sprout in the fall have several months to become established in order to survive the following summer.

What Should a Lawn Renovation Consist Of?

A Fescue lawn renovation should consist of core aeration, a good quality fertilizer with a balance of macro and micro nutrients, and a good quality blend of Fescue seed.

core aeration How Can I Get My Lawn Aerated?

You have a couple of options for getting your lawn aerated. You could do it yourself by renting an aerator from a local equipment rental store. A few of your neighbors may be interested in splitting the cost and doing their lawn renovations at the same time. Another option is to hire a lawn care service, such as Crownover Green, to aerate your lawn. For Crownover Green clients, core aeration is included in our comprehensive seasonal lawn care program.

How Can I Get the Most out of My Fall Lawn Renovation?

Besides arranging for aeration, and choosing a good quality fertilizer and grass seed, here are a few other important considerations for maximizing the success of your fall Fescue lawn renovation:
  1. Mark underground cables, wires, and irrigation systems. Most aerator tines will not go deeper than about 3 inches. Typically, underground wires (e.g., for an electric pet fence) or TV cables are buried deeper than this. However, if you are concerned that the aerator could cut or damage anything underground on your property, you should mark off where they are located with spray paint, lawn flags, or some sort of conspicuous stake. Irrigation pipes are usually not a concern but sprinkler heads should be marked.
  2. Consider topsoil. If you have low spots, holes or ruts in your lawn that are either a safety hazard or are bothering you, before the fall renovation is a good time to fill them in with topsoil, which is fairly inexpensive by the bag at garden centers.
  3. Prepare to water. Keeping your new grass seeds moist is a critical factor in whether your lawn renovation will ultimately be successful. Some seeds may be terminated every time they are allowed to dry out. Therefore, keeping them moist keeps them viable. Plan to water briefly (just enough to wet the seeds at the surface of the soil) 3-4 times per day for up to 3 weeks until most of the seeds have sprouted. Then gradually decrease the frequency while increasing the duration of watering to help the new seedlings mature. If you don't have an automated irrigation system, we recommend investing in timers for your hose-end sprinklers; and to reduce the number of times you will need to move your hose-end sprinklers to water the whole lawn each time, we recommend sprinklers that will cover large areas (unless you only have small areas to water).
  4. Consider a seed germination aid and/or erosion control. If you have sloped areas where there is not enough existing turf to hold fertilizer and grass seeds in place during rainfall, then we recommend rolling out erosion control blankets. For flat areas with bare soil, sprinkling on a germination aid such as this one will help keep the seeds moist between watering. Wheat straw is the most economical germination aid but it usually contains wheat seeds, which may create a weed problem in your lawn over the winter.
  5. Mow low. Shorter turf allows sunlight to reach the grass seeds. Mow your lawn at about 2 inches and either bag or rake/remove the clippings if possible so that the new seeds will not be smothered by thatch or grass clippings. After the renovation, let the grass grow for 2-3 weeks and then mow at the usual height of about 3.5".
  6. Ensure ground is soft. The aerator tines will penetrate deeper into your turf, and therefore make the renovation more successful, if the ground is moist. If the ground is not already soft from rain, then water well a few hours before the renovation.