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Life After Lawn: Clearwater fescue looks cool

Clearwater fescue is an Idaho native that makes itself right at home in California.
Clearwater fescue is an Idaho native that makes itself right at home in California.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

Clearwater fescue

Festuca idahoensis “Clearwater Blue”

Size: 6-inch clumps; 1 to 2 feet tall when in bloom.

Bloom season: Silver flower stems in spring and summer.

Exposure: Mostly sun; prefers afternoon shade in the Central Valley.

Pruning needs: None; remove spent flower stems.

Water needs: Medium- to low-water; once established, water deeply once a week or twice a month.

Snapshot: This Idaho native adds interesting color and movement to the water-wise garden. A fine-textured grass with attractive powder-blue foliage, Clearwater fescue looks like a cool blue pool planted en masse or can be mixed as contrast with bold, dark green foliage plants. Its silvery flower stalks rise from foliage in spring and summer and float like feathers in the Delta breeze. More compact than similar fescues, Clearwater makes an attractive accent plant in small spaces, too.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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