Turf-type tall fescue is a bunch-type grass with substantially wider leaves compared to the fine-leaf fescues. It has very deep roots that help it weather drought conditions better than other cool-season lawn grasses.
The wide blade makes tall fescue inappropriate for lawn mixtures with other cool-season grasses (such as bluegrass and ryegrass) unless it is greater than 90 percent of the mixture. Breeders have developed exceptionally dark green cultivars that are extremely heat- and drought-tolerant.
Tall fescue is more shade tolerant than bluegrass or ryegrass, but not as tolerant as the fine fescues. It requires regular fertilization and should be mowed above 2 inches.
Tall fescue is tolerant of abrasion, but because it is a bunch-type grass that doesn't spread much it requires regular seeding to stay competitive in a heavily trafficked lawn.
As a result of its "forage grass" heritage (it's commonly grown in pastures), tall fescue has a very rapid leaf extension to replace leaves grazed by animals. This trait has persisted even though the mower has replaced the grazer. As a result, tall fescue requires more frequent mowing under ideal growing conditions compared to other cool-season grasses. Thatch is usually not a problem.
Tall fescue is susceptible to brown patch and Pythium. Similar to the ryegrasses it has suffered recently from rust. Proper nitrogen fertilization is vital to avoid and manage these diseases.
Tall fescue is most successful when established from seed in early August (several weeks prior to establishing other cool-season grasses), because it is less winter-hardy in the seedling stage. While generally not recommended, spring establishment can be successful when soils warm and seeding rate is increased slightly to compete with weed growth.