So you’ve decided that a fescue grass variety is your best option for your new patch of lawn? Good on you. Tall fescues have a well-earned reputation of being an excellent drought-resistant turf for colder climates.
Fescue grasses love mild summers, cold winters, and are great when it comes to drought and frost tolerance. It is perfect for gardens of Tasmanian and Victorian residents, and those in some areas of South Australia, southern Western Australia and New South Wales.
But now there’s a newcomer on the Tall Fescue scene which has opened this variety up as a solid option for warmer climates. And that’s RTF Fescue Grass.
RTF stands for Rhizomatous Tall Fescue. The ‘R’ is the key here; rhizomes are (mostly) underground plant stems which send out roots, allowing a grass to propagate away from the original plant, spreading without any need for assistance. Classic Tall Fescues don’t have this ability, and it really is a stand-out quality for the RTF types. They are lower maintenance than original varieties as the rhizomes work their magic and fill in any thinning areas.
RTF Fescue Grasses also display greater drought resistance. Their roots reach deeper – sometimes as far as 2 metres below the soil – allowing them to access water supplies other turfs can’t reach. RTF is definitely the way to go for anyone in a warmer, drier climate.
RTF Fescue Grasses are distinct from regular Tall Fescue Varieties in their leaf texture. They tend to be softer to the touch, which does bode nicely for the kiddies running around on it with their bare feet!
There are drawbacks however. The deep root system takes a long time to form, so you’ll need to water your fescue a lot while it tries to take hold. Even once the grass is established, a frequent watering schedule is required to keep the green in your turf. Keep this in mind if you’re in a drought prone area, as RTF will drink a lot more than other lawn types like Buffalo, Couch and Kikuyu. 3-4 soakings per week may be required in drier times.
In an ideal world, a weekly mow is best. Obviously this isn’t tenable for some, but keep in mind that fescue is a vigorous grower and can start to look slightly shabby if left unattended for a couple of weeks. Setting your mower to 50mm in Summer and 40mm in Winter will produce the lushest results.
Fertiliser is also your friend, as fescue has quite the appetite. 3-4 meals a year will keep your lawn full and happy. It needs fuel to get those roots down as far as it does!
The only other aspect of fescue maintenance that you’ll need to keep in mind is its iffy resistance to attackers. It is susceptible to things like weed invasion, disease and pests. Attacking these sorts of problems early is obviously always your best bet. Prevention before cure.
If you are prepared to put in the hard work though, you will be handsomely rewarded. RTF fescue is one of the best looking and best feeling grasses you can purchase, and if you’re hot on your maintenance and treat your new turf right, you’ll be the talk of your street.
So now everyone can enjoy the pleasure of a soft, lush, dark green Tall Fescue turf all year round!
McKays stock both RTF Fescue Grass and Turf-Type Fescue grass. One kilogram of McKay’s Turf-Type Tall Fescue Grass Lawn Seed is cheap as chips at only $24, whereas one kilo of RTF Tall Fescue will set you back $38.50. Still a reasonable price, but if you’re comparing the two and are on a budget, a classic type is certainly more friendly on the hip pocket.