Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers


Tall fescue
Festuca arundinacea

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
Life Cycle and Growth Habit
Cool-season perennial with bunch-type growth habit with occasional short rhizomes. 
Regional Adaptation
Cool humid
Cool semiarid
Warm humid
Transition zone
Adapts to wide range of soils and environments; full sun; tolerates some shade; does well in heat and drought; useful in the transition zone; tolerates short periods of submersion.


Light Requirements
Requires full sunlight
Can tolerate partial sun/shade
Best Suited for These Uses/Sites
Lawns, parks, golf course roughs, and low maintenance areas in the central and southern portions of the Midwest; use turf-type tall fescues where moderate to moderately high-quality turf is desired and pasture types (such as 'Kentucky 31', 'Alta', 'Fawn') for utility purposes.


Low to moderate; mow frequently (depending on use), normal lawn heights are 2 to 3 1/2 inches; supply 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per growing season; supply water as necessary; established tall fescues have good drought tolerance and will require little or noirrigation during most Midwestern summers; thatch is not a major problem due to bunch-type growth habit.


Seeding (6 to 9 pounds per 1000 sq.ft.; generally avoid mixing with other species) and occasionally sodding.



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

Pasture types: Kentucky 31, Alta, and Fawn.


Pests and Problems
Additional Notes
Can become an undesirable weed in other turfgrasses. Homeowners often confuse this turfgrass species with crabgrass.


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