Ask a Master Gardener

Reseeding Fescue


My fescue took a beating this year in the heat. Should I reseed in the fall or the spring? AC

Fescue is our primary grass for shady areas here in Tulsa. It can work in areas with full sun, but you might not want to pay the water bill that it takes to make that happen. However, saying that fescue is a grass for shady areas is a little misleading because all grass needs sun, fescue just does better in shady areas than Bermuda does. Part of the reason for this is that fescue is essentially a cool season grass. When we experience our cool season, many of the leaves have dropped off the trees. When the leaves are gone the fescue gets plenty of sun and grows well. But then when the leaves come back in the spring, the fescue starts to struggle a bit. This is why we have to give our fescue a little help each year and fall is the best time to reseed.

Fall is the best because not only do we have cooler temperatures, but when we reseed in the fall, the grass has the fall, winter, and spring to work on a healthy root system that will do it’s best to help it survive our Oklahoma summers.

There are a lot of different varieties of fescue available, but we recommend you purchase seed that contains a blend of at least 3 different types of fescue rather than a single cultivar. When you purchase a blend, you are increasing your chances for success. By combining grasses, you tend to reduce the incidence of disease and one variety of fescue might be just what your yard needs and another might not work as well in your unique growing conditions.

When reseeding to fill in some bare or thin spots, it’s a good idea to loosen up the soil a little bit. Loose soil gives the seeds a better chance at taking root. This loosening can be done with a rake. If you are putting seed down to thicken up your turf, roughing up the soil is a little more problematic.

Depending on the area you need to seed, you can use a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader. The drop spreader will give you greater control, but the broadcast spread will make the job go faster. If I have just a few bare spots to seed, I’ll use a large coffee can and hand seed.

When reseeding, you can apply the seed at a rate of 3-6 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. If you have large bare spots you might want to increase that rate to 6-8 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft.

The next thing you will need to do is keep the grass seed moist which may mean you need to water a couple times a day until the seed germinates. After that you can water less frequently.

We have quite a bit of information in our Diagnostic Center and on our website, to help you maintain your new and existing turf. Good luck.

You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at

Photo: Tom Ingram