Kentucky bluegrass vs tall fescue is a tough choice when sowing cold-season grass in your front or backyard. Both are lush green varieties that are very good at tolerating foot traffic and attacks from disease.

We have extensively compared both types based on years of experience. Find out which one of these suits your lawn or turf the best by carrying on reading below.

Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue

Kentucky Bluegrass vs Tall Fescue Comparison Table

Kentucky Bluegrass Tall Fescue
Scientific Name Poa pratensis Festuca arundinacea
Leaf Description
  • Leaf blades are thinner, slender, and somewhat boat-shaped.
  • The leaf blade is about half to four inches long.
  • They appear and feel finer on touch.
  • One of the softest grass types.
  • Leaf blades are thin and broad.
  • They are very rough and coarse both in appearance and on touch.
  • The undersides are relatively smoother and shinier, whereas the other side is significantly ribbed.
Stems It can grow up to 18 to 24 inches tall. Its stems are 3 to 4 feet tall.
Grass Seed Germination Slower Faster

It germinates in under nine to 16 days.

Tolerance For Foot Traffic  Lower than other Higher than other 
Water Requirements It requires 2 inches of water each week. It requires only 1 inch of water per week.
Sunlight Requirements
  • Does not tolerate shade that much.
  • Needs at least eight hours of sunlight each day.
  • Shade tolerant
  • Needs only four hours minimum of sunlight daily.
Soil Requirements
  • Needs well-draining and loose soil.
  • pH should be around 6 to 7.
  • Clay-based, moisture retaining, and compact soil.
  • pH should be from 5.5 to 7.5.
Tolerance For Heat Low High 

What Are the Differences Between Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue?

The main difference between Kentucky bluegrass lawngrass and tall fescue is that the latter is hardier, is more foot and shade tolerant, and feels coarser on touch and in appearance.

The Kentucky bluegrass tends to be a softer grass and more cold-tolerant in comparison.

What Are the Characteristics of Kentucky Bluegrass?

The key to an instant Kentucky bluegrass identification is its lush green grass blades that are smooth on one side with hair on the other. Find out some other important characteristics of this grass in the upcoming section.

Kentucky Bluegrass Characteristics

– A Suitable Lawn Grass for Northern Coastal Areas

This cold season grass starts turning green early in the spring time each year, and if the summers are cool, it lasts till late fall. It cannot tolerate hot and dry summers and will turn yellow, brown, and burnt – the blades will become brittle. 

That is why it is the perfect grass for growing in northern coastal areas. First of all, the summers in these regions are pretty mild and humid. The cool breeze from the coast also helps protect its blades from getting damaged by the heat and the sun.

Lasts Well Into Cold Winters

Kentucky bluegrass is the hardest among all cool-season grass types. While most of these grass types last as long as late fall and early winter, this one has also been known to survive mild winters. The ideal temperature range to grow this grass is around 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This is why this is the ideal turf and garden grass in the northern regions of the United States. It helps that the summers in these regions are also cooler and milder. Otherwise, it either burns or goes into dormancy when temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

– Shade Tolerance Not So Good

Kentucky bluegrass likes at least eight hours of bright sunlight, preferably in direct form. Naturally, the grass is not the most suitable grass to grow in or even in partially shaded conditions. 

Even in brightly lit shaded areas, you will notice that the grass blades fail to achieve their classic bright color. Despite excellent lawn care, the stems will also not grow as tall as expected. 

– Can Self Repair 

In our opinion, self-repair is one of the best properties of Kentucky bluegrass. No other grass compares to it when it comes to repairing even moderately-sized patches of grass that have been damaged.

Keep in mind that the grass needs nutrients to grow and repair itself. The soil it is grown itself needs to be rich in nutrients.

Secondly, ensure that this grass type’s fertilizer requirements are fulfilled. Feed it with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in early spring each year. This is when the grass and seed growth is at its peak.

– Suitable for Golf Courses and Sports Areas

Because of its ability to withstand significantly moderate foot traffic and regenerate itself, Kentucky bluegrass is one of the most popular and sought-after grasses for golf courses and athletic sports grounds. Many schools in cooler regions preferentially have it planted in their sports fields.

Not only that, but it is also popular among homeowners as the ideal lawn and turf grass. It has the most pleasant greenish-blue hue and feels soft on the touch and walking. You and your kids can play all they want without damaging the grass.

Because it spreads by itself through underground rhizomes, you will also find it adorning several public parks. Except for its peak growth period in early spring, the park administration will have to do very little maintenance and patch fixing for the rest of the year.

What Are the Characteristics of Tall Fescue?

Some important characteristics of tall fescue lawn grass are that it can tolerate heat despite being a cool-season grass, it is also quite resistant to pests and diseases, and it grows better in shaded conditions.

Tall Fescue Characteristics

– It Is a Cool Season Grass With Heat Tolerance

Tall fescue generally falls in the category of cold-season grasses. This means that its blades become green much earlier in the season, even before spring is in full swing. It lasts well until late into the fall and only becomes dormant when the weather becomes frosty cold.

It is the cool season grass with the highest heat tolerance. This means it will also stay green during the milder summer months. However, if your state experiences very hot and dry summers, this grass may not be right for your lawn.

This grass is perfect for states that fall in transitional zones, such as Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, etc. The weather in these states is rainy and humid during summer, and the temperature doesn’t become too high either. You can get your fescue grass to last almost all year round on the lawn or the turf wherever it is grown.

– It Is Heat and Drought Tolerant

This type of tall fescue grass is tolerant of a cold-growing species. It can tolerate temperatures up to 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Most other cold-growing grasses turn yellow at temperatures this high. The grass will finally grow dormant if the temperature rises above 80 degrees.

This grass generally has low water needs (about one inch of water per week, on average, should be enough) but will grow best if watered consistently. One useful property is that fescue can tolerate occasional drought conditions and neglect in watering

The reason for this lies in their long and extensive root system. They quickly establish themselves two to three feet deep into the soil and use it to fulfill their watering needs by absorbing water from the soil.

They also have 40 percent more roots than any other tall fescue turf type. Moreover, their rhizomes also store a significant quantity of water for a while.

– Has Excellent Traffic Tolerance

This hardy grass type is notorious for its excellent tolerance when it comes to traffic. It is planted on school grounds, residential lawns, roadside turf, and animal pastures. You can play soccer on it or have a human and animal walk over it all the time, and it will hold up just the same. 

Not only this, but the grass is resilient in several other aspects. It will grow and thrive in several soil types and even survive soil compaction. If the soil is particularly low in nutrients, choose tall fescue because it will grow even there.

– Grows Well in Shade

This grass will grow the best in shaded or partially shaded conditions. It needs only four hours of moderate sunlight daily to thrive. It will grow even in the most well-shaded areas of the lawn, provided some form of light reaches there indirectly.

It will also tolerate direct light, but only if the temperatures are on the lower side. In hot summer, direct light will burn its broad leaf blades badly.

– A Disease-resistant Grass

This grass type has excellent disease resistance against common garden pests and grubs. If you take good care of it by watering it on time and taking care not overwater it, then your grass will be able to resist attacks by diseases and bugs easily. 

The only diseases you need to be concerned about are bacterial leaf spots and fungal root rot. Both are by-products of needlessly overwatering your turf or lawn. It is best to stop watering this grass during the rainy season for better lawn care.

– Several Types of Fescue Varieties To Choose From

Several types and varieties of fescue cultivars have been developed over the past few years. You can get grass of any particular characteristic that you like these days. 

Is your lawn prone to occasional lack of water and conditions of drought? Do you want a variety that is especially resistant to the grubs and pests on your lawn? You can now choose any specialized fescue variety of your liking and grow it on the lawn.

– Has Poor Competitiveness

Unfortunately, this mix tall fescue grass types is a very poor competitor. This means it is very easy for other grass seeds in the soil and a weed to compete with and overcome it.

It would be best to use a very high seed density when planting it anywhere. At least 70 percent of your seed mix needs to be purely fescue so that this grass will establish its roots there.

As for weed control, you will have to be constantly vigilant. One method is to overseed the lawn with tall fescue seedlings one fall and then use a preemergent herbicide the next fall. Large tufts of weed and competing grass must be manually pulled out.

Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue Comparison

Frequently Asked Questions

– What Is the Difference Between Tall Fescue and Kentucky 31?

Kentucky 31 is a sub-type of tall fescue, and the main distinguishing point from its parent grass is that it is smoother, softer, and far lusher in comparison. It also has improved tolerance for heat Tall Fescue and rare conditions of drought. Compared to most fescue varieties, it pushes boundaries and is growable in more regions of the US.

– Will Kentucky Bluegrass Overtake Fescue?

Bluegrass will most likely not overtake fescue, even though the latter has a very poor ability to compete with weeds and other grass types. Both of them have been known to coexist pretty well together. 

Fescue is not so good at repairing itself, whereas bluegrass is excellent at it. Bluegrass may overtake damaged portions of fescue over time.

– Can I Mix Tall Fescue and Kentucky 31 Grass?


As discussed in this Kentucky bluegrass vs. tall fescue review, both of these cool growing grasses tend to be a great option for decorating lawns, gardens, and turfs. Tall fescue is hardier and has better heat, foot traffic, and drought tolerance.

However, Kentucky bluegrass is amongst one of the softest grass types that can repair itself. We recommend you go for fescue first because it is easier to grow, but if you want a more esthetic-looking lawn, then bluegrass is the better option.

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