Q: What can you tell me about dwarf fescue grass? Does it grow and thrive in Atlanta? I read something about it in a magazine and want to know about using it here.
A: Extension turf expert Clint Waltz says that ‘Bonsai’ and ‘Shortstop II’ were tested in the 1996 National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP) trial in Griffin. Out of 129 cultivars they ranked 115 and 125, respectively.
In Clint’s trials, ‘Bonsai’ has barely had acceptable fall and spring green color and the turfgrass quality has been marginal. I believe there are plenty of superior tall fescue cultivars for our climate. In my opinion, ninety percent of a fescue lawn’s appearance is due to a deep root system and ten percent to the cultivar you plant.
If your soil is hard and full of clay, no fescue will thrive in summer. Press the blade of a screwdriver into the soil five days after a rain. If the point can penetrate only a couple of inches, imagine the difficulty grass roots would have. A yearly aeration, thoroughly done, is the best way to keep soil from compacting.