If you’re in Wells Brothers and ask “what grass does well in the shade?” The conversation goes to fescue. Fescue is a shade-tolerant turf grass that is available in seed and sod, although sod can be difficult to find around our part of Texas. Shade means the area receives sunlight from 1.5 to 4 hours a day. Wells Brothers sells 2 varieties of seed that are considered “Tall Turf Type” by bag and bulk (by the pound). Our number 1 seller is called “5 Star” followed by “Extreme Shade 5 Star”. 5 Star is sold in 25#, 50# and by the pound. Extreme Shade is sold in a 50# and by the pound.
From the end of September to the end of April is the planting time for fescue. Application rates vary but the rule of thumb is 10 pounds per thousand square feet on bare soil and 5 pounds per thousand for overseeding existing Fescue lawns. You should be overseeded once a year to keep it looking like a lawn and not a pasture. Fertilizer and mowing requirements for St. Augustine can be used for fescue. Water requirements for fescue in the summer are enormous and some will die regardless of our efforts. It will require mowing in the winter and it is some of the best-looking grass in the spring and fall.
Fescue must be covered for it to germinate in any reasonable time (7 – 14 days). Seed cover can be dried leaves, dried grass clipping, raking it in or a light covering of compost. I am a follower of the compost cover. My goal is a 2 cubic foot bag per 150 square feet. When overseeding, cut the grass and spread the seeds. Don’t mow for 14 days. Water the seed lightly every morning until it starts to look like a lawn. Then you can reduce the watering to every other day until it needs mowing. This process will take between 2 and 4 weeks. You can apply fertilizer after its first mowing. I recommend all-natural fertilizer for the first application.
5 Star is a mix of 5 different varieties of fescue. The theory behind this is if 1 fails (for whatever reason) you have 4 other varieties not failing. The Extreme Shade 5 Star follows the same theory but with a different variety of seeds. Several years ago some folks were using Fescue in the place of Rye Grass for overseeding Bermuda lawns. This is a major mistake so use Rye Grass for such a task.