Fescue – Fertilizing
Fescue grass is a cool-season grass. It does the majority of its productive growth between September and June. For this reason, fertilizer applications should be concentrated in the fall, winter and early spring.
The amount of fertilizer to apply should be determined by a soil test (details here). If you have not had your soil tested, here are some rule-of-thumb recommendations for fescue fertilization.
LIME If the lawn has not been limed in the last year, the soil is probably acid. You can apply 20 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet in the fall and another 20 pounds in the spring. A soil test might determine that you need more – but 40 pounds per year is a moderate amount, which is certainly better than nothing.
Fertilizer should be applied three or four times between September and May. The times to apply are generally in late September, in November, in February and perhaps in late April.
There are many different brands of lawn fertilizer available. I have no recommendation on which is the best of these fertilizers. All have a high first number, meaning they stimulate foliage growth. Follow label directions and you’ll be fine.
You can put down lime and fertilizer at the same time. As long as the turf is dry, the particles of either one will not stick to grass blades. They will simply fall to the ground and will start their good work as soon as it rains.
Fertilizing fescue in the summer is not recommended. Fertilizing in hot weather robs food from the roots of the grass and makes it more susceptible to drought and disease. Do not be tempted to fertilize a fescue lawn like you would a bermudagrass lawn.
If your fescue turns a bit yellow in July, apply a product that contains water-soluble iron (Ironite, etc).
Cyclone spreaders and drop spreaders can both do a good job. Make sure the spreader is set properly to apply the right amount of fertilizer. It is best to apply half of the fertilizer going back and forth on the lawn and the other half while traveling at right angles to the first trip. This will give even coverage so you do not get streaks of yellow and green in the lawn.