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The Atlas fescue is a robust clumping species with bright green foliage that grows into 24-30 in. dia. mounds. Inflorescences develop in late spring and persist into fall, and provide pleasing visual character when moving in the wind or backlit by the sun. Long and flexible leaf blades are flat, gradually taper to a soft point and turn wheat colored in late fall.

Atlas fescue is a tough grass with pleasing ornamental characteristics that is commonly planted in large scale areas where it can provide a strong visual pattern. It grows well in full sun, on well-drained soils and with regular water throughout the year. As this plant matures at the end of summer, it develops a blond color similar to California native grasses. Like other clumping grass species, Atlas fescue should be trimmed each year to make way for a new season of growth.

Water Needs

The Atlas fescue grass grows well across the Inland Empire in sunny locations and with normal winter rainfall and moderate amounts of supplemental water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several winter months marked by an asterisk (*) when rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; higher amounts of water will result in stronger summertime flowering performance and foliage character.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 4

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 3x to 4x 2x to 3x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 3" to 4" 2" to 3" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 17"-24"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Grass
Foliage Character: Semi-deciduous
Habit: Symmetrical, Robust, Clumping
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 24 in. - 30 in.
Width: 24 in. - 30 in.
Water Needs: Moderate 4
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Cold hardy, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Slopes, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Parks and open space, Near pools and water features, Mass planting, Grouped, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Container plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Borders, Banks, Small spaces


Plants naturally turn a golden yellow in the heat of summer - this is normal and not a sign that increased irrigation is necessarily needed (S). Atlas fescue stays clean looking without much maintenance. Use a rake to rake out dead leaves if needed in the spring (5). This is a cool season growing grass, so only if needed to clean up the look or reinvigorate, cut back hard in the early fall, just prior to new growth (S).



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