Best Fertilizers For Fescue Grass: Ultimate Guide to Types, Fertilization Rates, Application Methods, Benefits and more

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Quick Answer: Best Fertilizers For Fescue Grass

Fescue grass is a cool-season grass that needs 3-5 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year. The best synthetic fertilizer for a new fescue lawn is a starter fertilizer while the established lawn prefers a slow-release fertilizer. The other organic soil amendments that work are compost, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal.

This comprehensive guide will assist you in selecting the best fertilizers for fescue grass.

It incorporates extensive research from various articles and books, to provide you with essential and well-informed information.

Continue scrolling down for additional information!

Best Fertilizers Types For Fescue Grass

Fescue grass is a cool-season grass that will thrive through the cooler period. It is used as an ornamental grass, shade grass, and a phytoremediation plant.

Many new cultivars are bred with disease and insect resistance, drought, and heat resistance.

It requires soil nutrients for good growth and fertilization at the right time of the year for optimum health and beauty.

There are many organic and inorganic fertilizers available for fescue grass.

Avoid applying excessive fertilizer as it will make the grass grow faster and increase the need for mowing.

Next, let us read further about the different fertilizer options for fescue grass.

Best Inorganic Fertilizers For Fescue Grass

Synthetic fertilizers are fast-acting fertilizers that provide a quick release of nutrients for fescue grass. It comes in a variety of forms, including pellet, liquid, granule, and spike.

It stimulates soil life and improves soil texture. But, high nutrient concentrations may lead to leaching and run-off.

Here are a few inorganic fertilizers that are appropriate for fescue grass:

1. Starter Fertilizers

Newly fescue seed lawn prefers a starter fertilizer that typically contains a higher concentration of phosphorus which promotes strong root growth.

It is important during the early growth stages after seeding.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Apply the starter fertilizer– Prepare the soil by removing debris and add a starter fertilizer according to the recommended amount.
  2. Spread the fertilizer– Use a seed spreader to apply the fertilizer evenly. Incorporate it into the topsoil with a rake and shovel or mechanically using a toller. Avoid incorporating the fertilizer deeper than 4 inches into the topsoil. Sow the grass seeds later.

You may watch this video for details on using starter fertilizer:

Pros And Cons

Starter fertilizers help in establishing a strong root system for fescue grass. It encourages the grass seeds to establish quickly and outcompete weeds for nutrients.

2. Slow-release Fertilizers

The established fescue grass prefers slow-release fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 3-1-2 ratio. It provides a steady supply of nutrients over an extended period.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Apply the slow-release fertilizer– Calculate the appropriate fertilizer amount and sprinkle it over the established lawn.
  2. Spread the fertilizer– Use a seed spreader to apply the fertilizer in two directions. Sweep the fertilizer granules that pile up on the sidewalk or driveway back onto the lawn. Water the lawn immediately to allow the nutrients to work down through the soil to the grassroots.

I recommend watching this useful video for the best slow-release fertilizers for fescue grass:

Pros And Cons

Slow-release fertilizer provides nutrients for the fescue grass to establish its roots. It prevents the grass to turn yellow or become crunchy.

Best Organic Fertilizers For Fescue Grass

Organic fertilizers are a great choice for fescue grass as they provide nutrients, improve soil health, and promote long-term sustainable growth.

It won’t burn or damage the plants when used properly. One drawback is that it takes time to decompose.

Here are a few organic fertilizers that work well to keep fescue grass healthy:

1. Compost

Compost is an organic fertilizer that can be used to improve soil fertility and provide a steady supply of essential nutrients for healthy grass growth.

It is an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic chemical fertilizers.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Prepare the lawn– Clear the debris, weeds, or rocks from the lawn. Choose the well-aged compost that has decomposed sufficiently.
  2. Apply the compost– Spread a thin layer of compost over the entire lawn. Rake the grass to incorporate it into the grass. Water the lawn.
  3. As topdressing– You may use compost as a topdress for the lawn with uneven areas or minor low spots.


I recommend watching this video for additional information on the topdressing lawn:

Pros And Cons

Compost can be used to enrich the soil and provide a natural source of nutrients for your lawn. It will lead to vibrant grass and a resilient lawn.

It improves soil structure by promoting aeration and drainage.

2. Fish Emulsion

Fish emulsion provides organic matter to the soil for optimum nutrient uptake by fescue grass.

It is a quick-acting fertilizer that supports robust root growth and promotes microbial activity. It can be used as a soil drench, foliar spray or added to the compost pile.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Apply the fish emulsion– Dilute the fish emulsion concentrate. Add one tablespoon (1/2 ounce) of fertilizer per gallon.
  2. Spray on the grass– Spray the diluted fertilizer on the grass in the early morning or late afternoon.

Check out this video for additional information on using fish emulsion fertilizers:

Pros And Cons

Fish emulsion provides nitrogen and other nutrients for the lush growth of the grass. It is a mild and all-purpose feeding option.

But, avoid too much fertilizer as it may burn the plants and affect their growth.

3. Cottonseed Meal

Cottonseed meal is a byproduct of the cottonseed oil extraction process and contains various nutrients.

It can be used as a slow-release fertilizer for fescue grass and eliminates nutrient runoff.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Apply cottonseed meal– Apply a one to two-inch layer of cottonseed meal over the graded area to be seeded. You may use 8-10 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet.
  2. Incorporate into the soil– Work well into the soil, level, and water thoroughly.

Here is a useful video on using cottonseed meal:

Pros And Cons

Cottonseed meal is a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium essential for fescue grass growth. It is safe to use without the danger of foliage burn and aids in water retention.

4. Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa meal is the ultimate plant-based fertilizer made from dried alfalfa plants that support the healthy growth of fescue grass.

It is rich in nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and natural growth hormones.

How to Use/Apply?

  1. Determine the application rate– Check the manufacturer’s instructions and determine the appropriate amount.
  2. Sprinkle the fertilizer- Apply the alfalfa meal to the fescue lawn during the growing season. Spread the fertilizer by hand or using a spreader. Water the lawn.

You may watch this video for the benefits of alfalfa meal:

Pros And Cons

Alfalfa meal promotes the healthy growth of fescue grass by providing a steady supply of nutrients.

It also helps in building soil health, increasing pest resistance, and encouraging microbial activity.

When And How Often Do I Fertilize Fescue Grass?

Fescue grass will respond to a steady amount of fertilizer in the spring and fall.

It prefers three to five pounds of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year. It needs three applications in late winter, mid-spring, and early fall.

It is recommended to add slow-release fertilizers in mid-spring and early fall.

Late winter

 It needs one pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet in late winter. Apply the fertilizer when the soil temperatures rise to 50o usually in late February and early March.

It needs high-nitrogen and low-phosphorus fertilizer.

Avoid fertilizing when the soil temperatures are below 45as the grassroots do not absorb nutrients.


Use a complete slow-release fertilizer around mid-spring. It needs 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet.


Avoid fertilizing the fescue lawn during the summer months. You may apply not more than 0.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet if the lawn is light green or yellow.

Early fall

Fertilize your lawn using a complete fertilizer or a fertilizer with little or no phosphorus. It needs 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet.

Liquid Vs Granular Fertilizers For Fescue Grass: Which is Better?

Liquid and granular fertilizers are both effective for fertilizing fescue grass. Both have their advantages.

Granular fertilizers are small pellets or granules that provide nutrients to the grass for a longer period. It can be applied by spreading manually or with a spreader.

Sprinkle the fertilizer over the grass. Water the lawn approximately one inch after fertilizing. It reduces the frequency of application due to its slow-release nature.

Liquid fertilizers are water-soluble and make the nutrients available to the grass plant immediately. It can be applied using a sprayer.

It is easy to apply and offers better uniformity of nutrients.

It requires more frequent application due to its faster release rate.

The choice between liquid and granular fertilizers depends on your preferences, lawn size, and your specific needs.

Regardless of the fertilizer type, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the fertilizer amounts.

Check out this video for differences between liquid and granular fertilizers:


Do you need to water the fescue lawn after fertilization?

It is recommended to water the fescue lawn after fertilization. The water helps to pull nutrients into the soil as it soaks into the ground. The fescue roots can absorb the nutrients and help to establish themselves. It helps in preventing the potential root burn due to fertilizer high in salts.

What is the best NPK for fescue?

Fescue grass prefers a fertilizer consisting of three parts nitrogen, one part phosphorus, and one part potassium. For example, you may use a slow-release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 12:4:8. It helps in releasing nutrients into the soil over time.

What are the signs of over-fertilizing fescue grass?

The most obvious signs of an over-fertilized fescue lawn are yellowing or browning of the tips of the grass blades. It may cause the scorching of the entire blades in severe cases. It causes thatch buildup and a weaker root system.

Can you use milorganite for fescue grass?

Yes, milorganite can be used for fertilizing fescue grass. It is an all-purpose slow-release nitrogen fertilizer composed of heat-dried microbes that will not burn the lawn. It can be used in spring after the last frost and once the lawn begins to grow.

Bottom line

I hope that this guide has been beneficial in guiding you toward selecting the ideal fertilizers for fescue grass.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll do my best to respond promptly.

 Don’t hesitate to share this guide with your friends and family for their gardening endeavors!

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