Hard Fescue

  • “Toughest” of all the fescues
  • Not as drought resistant as sheep or Idaho fescue
  • Produces more pounds on root per acre than top growth
  • Adapted to 12 to 30 inch rainfall areas of the west

Quantity is per pound. Example: 1 = 1 lb, 2 = 2 lbs, 3 = 3lbs, etc. This is pure seed, not a live plant.


Hard fescue (Festuca trachyphylla) is an introduced cool-season perennial bunchgrass. It is is long lived, persistent and competitive with other grasses and weeds. Hard fescue is native to forest edge habitats and open forests of Europe.

Hard Fescue is used for stabilizing roadsides and ditch banks, farm tree plantings, cover in orchards, weed suppression, campsites and recreational areas, fairways for golf courses, farm landing strips, runway shoulders, logging roads, skid trails, ski slopes, dryland lawns and as cover for retired cropland. It has been used for grazing, but usually more palatable grasses are preferred. It is commonly used as a low-growing turf. Mature stands are short-statured and have few seed heads, which makes this plant desirable for low- maintenance long-term cover. It is less drought tolerant than sheep fescue, but is an important erosion control species. It can attain a height of 30 inches when grown in good conditions. Compared to sheep fescue, it has more lax leaves that are longer, broader and coarser.

‘Durar’ Hard Fescue is more drought resistant than chewings fescue, but not as drought resistant as sheep or Idaho fescue. It is adapted to the 16 to 30 inch rainfall areas of Washington State, Oregon and Idaho. ‘Durar’ makes a tremendous root system, producing many more pounds of roots per acre than it does in top growth. Root samples taken from the top 8 inches of soil after 6 growing seasons showed ‘Durar’ with 6,000 pounds of roots per acre and crested wheatgrass with 3500 pounds of roots per acre. It produces up to 700 pounds of clean seed per acre. It is adapted to medium and fine textured soils that are well drained. Wet or saturated soils are not tolerated. It is somewhat shade tolerant.


A firm, weed-free seedbed is highly recommended. The germinating seedlings are susceptible to soil crusting, so early spring seeding is essential. Seeding should be done with double disk drills with depth control so that seeding depth is no more than 1/4 inch. Early spring seedings work well when made in spring barley stubble.


New seedings need protection the first year, so the seeded area should not be used or be subjected to traffic. Weed control is needed especially in the establishment year. Do not fertilize in the year of seeding because this generally results in heavy weed growth. Maintenance applications of fertilizer may be necessary in low fertility critical areas where the stand is stressed. Rotational use is recommended in heavy use areas, along with a maintenance application of fertilizer.

Over 90 cultivars of hard fescue have been released as of 2007, some of which are Plant Variety Protected. Many of these varieties are for turf and lawn use. Durar Hard Fescue was developed by re-selection from seed collected by Virgil Hawk in 1934 at the Eastern Oregon Livestock Experiment Station at Union, Oregon. It was released for commercial production in 1949.

Also known as Festuca trachyphylla, Festuca duriuscula and Festuca longifolia.

***Click on the “Quick Plant Facts” tab above for more information.

(Festuca brevipila)

Hard Fescue NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

Prepared By: Wayne Crowder, USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Pullman, Washington
Species Coordinator: Mark Stannard, USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center, Pullman, Washington

Download PDF

Helpful Links

Additional information about this product can be found on the academic websites linked below.


Many plants have more than one common and scientific name. We've listed a few of them below.

  • Hard Fescue
  •  Festuca ovina
  • Festuca duriuscula
  • Festuca trachyphylla
  • Festuca brevipila
  • Festuca stricta
  • Festuca longifolia.
Quick Plant Facts
Common Name:

Hard Fescue

Scientific Name:

Available Varieties:


Root Form


Zone Map


Min. Precipitation

12 – 14 Inches Minimum

Best SowingTime

Spring or Fall

Plant PDF File


Sowing Rate

3-6 PLS lbs. per Acre

Seed Count

565,000 per pound

Growth Height:

Plant Type:

Planting Rate:


Best Time to Sow:

Max Sowing Depth:

Growth Season:

Sun & Shade Tolerance:

Low Shade Tolerance, Full Sun

Elevation of Occurance:

Hardiness Zones:

, , , , ,

Customers Also Bought...