At what temperature does fescue grass go dormant? In the fall, fescue grass will go dormant when nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer parts of North America, this may occur in the middle of October. In colder regions, it will happen at the end of October. Your grass won’t necessarily go dormant the first time the temperature falls to 50 degrees. It will take multiple nights of hitting this mark for your grass to go dormant.
Now that you know exactly when your fescue grass will go dormant, let’s explore why. I will also cover steps you can take to prepare your grass to go dormant, as well as what other types of grass do before winter.
When Does Fescue Grass Go Dormant?
We all know that our lawns change significantly during winter. If you’re like me, you miss your green lush lawn during the cold months. When this happens, it is called going dormant. And this doesn’t happen during a specific month or after snowfalls. It is all about the temperature outside.
Why This Temperature?
This 50-degree Fahrenheit threshold exists because the active growth in your fescue grass stops when temperatures reach this point. This is due to a chemical reaction that occurs in the plant’s cells when it acclimates to cold weather.
It is important to note that this temperature doesn’t affect all types of fescue grass uniformly. There are at least three different species of fescue, and each has a slightly different growth pattern during the fall. The only difference in going dormant is the timing.
How Many Cold Nights Will It Take?
Your fescue grass will go dormant when nighttime temperatures are at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But this isn’t an exact number, as it depends on how many nights in a row hit this mark or higher.
This means that your grass might not go dormant after one night of this temperature if the next five nights stay above it. However, you may see your grass start to brown after just one night of 50 degrees or colder weather.
The Different Types Of Fescue Grass
There are three types of fescue grass – cool season, warm season, and turf type. Each one goes dormant at a different time during the fall.
Cool Season Fescue
This is the most common type of fescue grass. As the name suggests, it grows best in cooler climates. The cool season variety will go dormant in the fall when nighttime temperatures hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit for several days.
Unfortunately, it starts to freeze around 32 degrees. If this is a problem where you live, consider switching your grass to another type of fescue or covering it with straw during the winter months.
Warm Season Fescue
This type of fescue is better suited for warmer climates. It will go dormant when the temperature dips below 50 degrees, but it doesn’t freeze like the cool season variety.
Turf Type Fescue
This type of fescue grass is a hybrid between the cool and warm-season varieties. It has the best of both worlds, as it can withstand cold weather and doesn’t die when temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it will still go dormant when the temperature falls below 50 degrees.
How To Prepare Your Grass For Winter
Now that you know when your fescue grass will go dormant, it is important to take some steps to help prepare it for the winter.
- Water your grass a couple of weeks before the temperature drops. This will give your grass a good chance to take up as much water as possible before going dormant. Once it’s dormant, you will only water it if there is no snow cover and if there isn’t a freeze expected.
- Mow your grass before it goes dormant. This will make mowing easier once your grass is dormant, particularly if you have tall lawn mower blades.
- Add more fertilizer to your soil or spread compost on top of the ground. You can also work some organic material, like peat moss or manure, into your soil to help improve its quality.
- You can also use fertilizer on your grass before the temperature drops. Don’t apply a lot of nitrogen, though. Your grass will be dormant soon enough, so this chemical won’t serve any purpose later on in the fall.
Of course, we can’t prevent the grass from going dormant, this is a normal part of its growth cycle. These tips will just ensure it stays healthy and will be ready for spring growth.
What Your Grass Does When Going Dormant
When your fescue grass goes dormant, there are a few things that happen.
Above Ground Changes
The leaves and stems will start to turn yellow or brown when the grass goes dormant. Some shrubs might show signs of autumn colors, but it’s usually very subtle and not as vibrant as at other times of the year.
All parts of your fescue grass grow when it’s in the active growth phase. Once it goes dormant, the roots stop growing but will stay healthy. The crown of the plant dies off, but the root system remains intact.
When Does Fescue Grass Come Back in the Spring?
Once your fescue grass goes dormant, it will stay in that state until the weather warms up and the new growth phase begins. This typically happens in spring and will coincide with the return of various insects, which is normal.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for your grass to start growing again in the springtime. If you want an exact timeframe, contact your local county extension office or agricultural facility and ask when they think your fescue grass will start growing again.
In the meantime, don’t worry about your lawn! It’s still taking in nutrients from the soil and will remain healthy until it starts growing again.
When Do Other Types Of Grass Go Dormant?
There are a few other types of grass that go dormant in the fall. The most common is bluegrass. This type of grass will start to go dormant when nighttime temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Like fescue, it will take multiple nights of hitting this mark for the grass to go into full dormancy.
Another type of grass that goes dormant in the fall is rye. Rye will start to go dormant when nighttime temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take a few days of these temperatures before the rye goes into full dormancy.
Zoysia is a warm-season grass that will go dormant when nighttime temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Bermuda grass is another warm-season grass that will go dormant when nighttime temperatures dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Which Grass Is Best For Staying Green?
The best grass for staying green in the winter is fescue. It’s a cool-season grass and will stay green when other types of grass go dormant. If you’re looking to keep your lawn looking good during the winter, then you should consider planting fescue in your yard.
Fescue is also a very versatile type of grass that can stay green all year round in most areas of the United States. If you have winter snow, for example, your fescue will go dormant until springtime when it starts to melt away.
However, to know the best type of grass for your area, you need to know your planting zone. You can find this online or ask a local professional.
When Should You Fertilize Your Fescue Grass?
Once your fescue grass goes dormant, you shouldn’t fertilize it. This is because the roots have died off and the grass won’t be able to absorb any nutrients from the fertilizer.
Once your fescue starts growing again, however, you should fertilize it as needed. In most cases, once a month of springtime growth is plenty. This will maintain healthy fescue throughout the rest of the year.
If you notice any deficiencies in your fescue grass, then you can fertilize it with a specific type of fertilizer that addresses that issue.
How To Care For My Dormant Fescue Grass?
During winter, your lawn care will decrease naturally, however it shouldn’t be completely ignored! Here are a few things you should do during winter to care for your grass:
- Mow your lawn as needed, but don’t cut it shorter than 3 inches.
- Remove any leaves or debris from your lawn to keep it from clogging the grass blades.
- Water your lawn if there is a long period of dry weather.
- Apply a winterizing fertilizer in late fall to help prepare your fescue for dormancy.
- Be sure to avoid getting any salt or de-icing chemicals on your grass, as it will kill it.
As you can see, when your fescue grass goes dormant some key changes take place. The roots stop growing but stay healthy, while the crown of the plant dies off and turns brown.
When your fescue starts growing again in the spring, it typically takes a few weeks or months for it to start looking like normal. You can speed up this process by knowing when to fertilize your grass and which type of fertilizer is best for your needs.
If you’re looking to keep your lawn healthy all year round, then consider planting fescue grass in your yard! It’s the best type of grass for staying green in the winter and will look good no matter what the weather is like. Just know that going dormant is perfectly normal and healthy.