By definition, a weed is considered a plant out of place….and when something is growing where you don’t want it whether it is grass or a broadleaf I consider this a “weed”. Weeds are typically divided into 2 groups – Broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds. This weeks weed of the week is Tall Fescue. Tall Fescue is a turfgrass, but I classify it as an unwanted grassy weed, especially when its mixed in and growing in a home lawn persisting of Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. Not knowing the technical term many people refer to Tall Fescue as “field” and “pasture” grass.
Tall Fesuce is commonly found in most home lawns and one of the reasons why it is so undesirable is not only because of its leaf texture, but also because of its growing habit. Tall Fescue has a very wide leaf blade in comparison to Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass that is found on most cool season lawns. The exceptionally wide blade makes it stand out in every place it is growing, and to make it even more visible it also typically grows in clumps and patches across the lawn.
Tall Fesuce is that it is very commonly misidentified by homeowners as Crabgrass. To the un-trained eye the two could be easily mixed up, but they are completely different grass types with very different control methods. There are selective control options for Crabgrass both pre-emergent, and post emergent unlike Tall Fesuce. That is why proper identification is necessary to make control decisions.
Control options are limited since it is usually growing together in the lawn with other desired turfgrasses. Most products that control Tall Fescue will also harm the surrounding desired turf so selective treatments are not as easily made. Selective weed control products that are used to kill broadleaf weeds are not effective on Tall Fescue. Only non-selective products can control Tall Fescue, but these products will also kill the other turf growing alongside, leaving you the options to mechanically remove these areas with a sod cutter, or digging them out by hand with a shovel.
Annual overseeding with high quality certified grass seed will certainly help keep your lawn thick and lush and less prone to infestations of Tall Fescue. Removing clumps and patches of Tall Fescue when you first see it growing will most definitely help you keep the problem under control. New chemistry selective control products are available for use in some regions, check your local Nutri-Lawn franchise location to see what options are available in your market.