When you want shade grasses on your lawn or farm, you might get the advice of looking to fescue grasses for that purpose. They have always maintained their popularity as shade grasses, but you might be surprised to find the variety of fescue grasses available – both in terms of brands and individual species. All of these fescue grasses will differ in use and shade tolerance, as well as resistance to diseases, heat, and insects.
We will look at two of these fescue grasses in this review – Titan RX and Defiance XRE. Both are cool season varieties, but they are greatly improved in certain areas compared to the typical fescue grass, as we will see.
Defiance XRE vs Titan RX
The Defiance XRE grass is a grass seed blend that features a minimum of two tall fescue grass types, which eventually spread with rhizomes. The XRE term is an acronym for eXtreme Rhizome Expression, which is very telling of its composition.
The high recurrence of rhizomes, along with its improvements in the tall fescue varieties used, makes it very resistant to wear and injury, and gives it a much better ability for recovery from stress compared to many other tall fescue mixtures. It also has high levels of endophytes, which provide it with natural resistance to insects that feed on the leaves and its surface.
The Defiance XRE grasses are a rich dark green color, and they prove resistant to brown patching. Their roots are capable of reaching deep into the soil to facilitate the absorption of water, and reduce the costs of irrigation. This grass will also have less reliance on chemical inputs in order to thrive, and instead relies of comparable mixtures that offer the chance of creating an environmentally-friendly lush turf.
This is the fourth generation variety of Titan Tall Fescue grass blends. Generally, Titan grasses are popular for their attractive, durable turf results, even when the conditions are less ideal. The RX goes a step further and provides greater resistance to disease, cold, drought, and heat, which makes this grass idea for both shade and sun. Regardless of whether you are planting it as a pure grass or a mix, the Titan RX grass is a good choice for a variety of turfs – ranging from sod producers, landscapers, homeowners, and athletic turfs.
The Titan RX also features increased resistance to diseases, which include rust, red thread, and brown patches. This makes sure that your patch looks beautiful, even when the conditions are challenging. It also has some of the best drought resistance among grasses, and shares the aspect of endophytes with Defiance XRE to prevent insects from eating it. the only issue is that it requires plenty of maintenance in the drier months, compared to the Defiance XRE.
How do the features of these two compare?
The major advantage of the Titan RX is its versatility in shady conditions, as it is strong enough to grow in them. In fact, a study from 2011 ranked it the second highest in shade tolerance. In addition, it works well to fill areas of damage in your lawn by producing rhizomes that increase the density of the grass.
Its rate of recovery is even faster than what we see in the Defiance XRE, taking only 5 to 6 days in recovery before the rhizomes begin to produce grass, and this is due to the aggressive tillers that make the recovery process faster. Since its seeds are a mixture of fescue and bluegrass, its hardiness in drier conditions is lower, unless you make an effort to maintain it throughout the period.
On the other hand, the Defiance XRE has a slower growth rate than other tall grasses like Titan RX, while its leaves are finer compared to other forage fescues. The green appearance is maintained even in drier periods of the year, unlike other grass types like ryegrass or bluegrass. In a period of extended drought or heat, it is always helpful to irrigate it in order to prevent stand losses.
In the case of Defiance XRE, seeding the grass will require about 8 to 10 pounds for every 1000 square feet, to promote proper lawn grass density. The emergence of the grass will start after 7 to 10 days if the conditions are at their optimum, while you can commence mowing at the 21 to 30-day mark. The limited use can start from 60 to 75 days. To ensure that germination is successful from the start, it is good to apply starter fertilizer when sowing the seeds – the quantity is 2 to 3kgs of fertilizer for every 100 square meters of lawn.
For the Titan RX grass, the best time to plant is during spring, early fall, or late summer according to the location. If you are seeding at another time of the year, you will need to touch up bare or thin spots as necessary. The fertilizer application should be right after seeding or prior to it, and you should start off with a starter fertilizer to facilitate root development. During maintenance, you can apply a systematic fertilizer.
You should aim to sow the seeds evenly, with a ratio of 7 to 10 pounds per 1000 square feet, and rake them lightly into the soil (maximum depth of 1/8 inch). If you want to maintain the height of the grass, always keep the height of your mower to 2-3 inches high.
Excellent wear tolerance
Dark green color
Excellent heat and drought tolerance
Semi-dwarf growing habits
Moderate shade tolerance
High levels of endophytes that give it natural resistance to insects
Better recovery ability from stress compared to other tall fescue mixes
Excellent resistance to pests
Ideal for both shade and sun
Tolerant to heavy traffic
Deep green color
High shade tolerance
These two grasses are very similar, although they have different requirements. Overall, the grass we prefer is the Defiance XRE because of its lower maintenance requirements (even during dry periods), while the Titan RX is great if you are willing to keep up with its maintenance requirements and want a faster-growing grass.