It is not as important as you think it is, but I know your first thought is what fescue seed to buy.
Choosing a Fescue Variety and then come back.
Even in a drought, fescue can be planted IF THE SEED HAS GOOD SEED TO SOIL CONTACT. The best way to accomplish this is to use a rented slit seeder (also known as a verticutter or a dethatcher with seed bin). This machine thoroughly tears up the sod and soil and drops seed into the soil, where it can germinate if rains arrive.
You can also use an aerator but you MUST go over the lawn at least three times to get good seed contact with the soil. Use the backside of a leaf rake to settle the seed among the soil of the aerator plugs.
Seeding a New Lawn
Optimum air temperatures for tall fescue germination are 68 to 77°F and soil temperatures greater than 60°F.
· Kill all weeds by spraying the area with a non-selective weed killer two weeks before planting.
· Mix in a layer of soil conditioner one inch thick. Till the soil thoroughly to a depth of six inches.
· Rake the area smooth, removing rocks, clumps and grassy debris.
· Roll the area with a water-filled roller to reveal low spots.
· Fill low spots with soil.
· Scatter 5 – 8 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet.
· Cover very thinly with wheat straw (1 bale per 1000 square feet).
Overseeding an Existing Lawn
· If the lawn is covered 50% or less with healthy fescue, use a verticutter (sometimes called a dethatcher). Adjust the verticutter blades to just touch the top of the soil.
· If the lawn is covered 50% or more with healthy fescue, use a core aerator. Stop when you have 10 or more aerator holes per square foot.
· Just before seeding, lower your mower one notch below your normal mowing height and mow the lawn. This removes the grass canopy and helps seed fall directly onto the soil.
· Spread 3 – 5 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Drag the area with a carpet or section of chain link fence to crumble aerator plugs and cover the seed with soil.
· Prepare the soil as if you are planting seed (see above)
· Starting along the longest straight edge of the area, lay sod pieces end-to-end.
· Make sure each piece is tightly placed next to its neighbor.
· Stagger sod pieces in adjacent rows so seams do not line up.
· Use a small hatchet or sharp shovel to trim pieces to fit around obstructions.
· Roll the entire area once more, to insure good sod-to-soil contact.
· Water sod lightly and daily for five days, then within three weeks wean it to one inch of water per week.
Watering Schedule after Seeding
· Set out several paper cups while you irrigate to help determine how long it takes to apply an inch of water.
· Apply one inch of water immediately after planting.
· Apply only enough water daily (or as regulations allow) to prevent the top one-half inch of soil from drying until seedlings are 1.5 inches tall.
· After that, apply one-fourth inch of water every third day for nine days.
· Next, apply one-half inch of water every fifth day for ten days.
· After this establishment period, apply one inch of water per week for the rest of the growing season.
· There is no need to water if rainfall supplies the correct amount.
· Glyphosate (Roundup, etc) can be used to kill existing weeds one week before seeding.
· Use a starter fertilizer at planting using the label rates.
· Fertilize again in mid-November, using any brand turf fertilizer.
· Fertilize again February, using any brand turf fertilizer.
· Fertilize again mid-April, using any brand turf fertilizer.
· Most Georgia soils benefit from garden lime. Apply 50 pounds per 1000 square feet, preferably a week before or after planting.