The Q&A Archives: Yellowing Fescue

Question: I have a sloped lawn w/ irrigation. It was started from sod by the previous owner. It has a more yellow appearance than that of my neighbors. Both lawns are some sort of fescue variety. Is this a need for nitrogen or too much? My goal is a deep green turf and with spring fast approaching, I would appreciate any insight you could provide.

Answer: Your neighbor may have a different variety of fescue which accounts for his "greener than your lawn". That said, here are a few things to consider: Could you be irrigating your lawn too much? A too-wet lawn can be open to several diseases. Are you mowing too short? Depending on variety, fescues often prefer a higher mowing level, and cutting it too short could cause shock and a yellowing. Keep in mind that grasses have the need for dormancy or at least a short rest.

Generally, fertilizing for the health of the grass is recommened only twice a year -- early fall and late fall. This encourages strong, deep roots. If your grass does not green up normally this spring after its winter's rest, then I suggest you test your soil. Improper soil pH can cause poor plant growth; the soil test results should give you recommendations on how to amend your soil for optimum growth. Contact your county Extension office (ph no. 704-336-4034) about soil test kits and see if they have any pamphlets on lawn care and troubleshooting for your region.

Depending on your soil type, your lawn may prefer an aeration rather than another application of fertilizer. Power aerators are available for rent and do a great job in helping compacted soil to loosen up.

By the way, overapplying fast-acting, nitrogen-rich fertilizer is not only unnecessary, it also creates nitrogen runoff which is a big problem in lakes and streams.

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