Perennial ryegrass vs tall fescue is an important comparison as these types of grass have very differing merits. Are you confused about which one of these will suit your private lawn and turf the most?

Perennial Ryegrass vs Tall Fescue Comparison

We have developed this well-researched guide to help you decide on the right grass for yourself. Wait no longer and read down to learn the major differences between these two cold-growing types of grass.

Perennial Ryegrass vs Tall Fescue Comparison Table

Perennial Ryegrass Tall Fescue
Scientific Name Lolium perenne  Festuca arundinacea
Native Region Central Asia, Middle East, and Northern Africa Europe
  • Appears finer in appearance
  • Ryegrass blades are bright-green, thin and long
  • Is a more coarse looking grass
  • One side of the grass blade is finer but the other is very rough
Soil Requirements Well draining soil that dries quickly  Prefers rich and clay-like soil
Temperature Requirements 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Root System Delicate root system in comparison Deep and extensive
Tolerates Foot Traffic No Yes


What Are The Differences Between Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue?

The major difference between these two grass types is that the perennial Ryegrass is a softer, smoother, and faster-growing grass. Tall fescue is grass with a very high tolerance for shade, foot traffic, and drought. It spreads like an invasive species if left unchecked.

What Are the Characteristics of Perennial Ryegrass?

The most useful characteristics of perennial Ryegrass are that it is a very fast-growing grass that has the ability to suppress the growth of neighboring weeds and other grass types.

– It Is Very Fast-Growing

Ryegrass is one of the most popular and fastest-growing grass types out there. Their grass seeds are known to germinate only about five to nine days if the temperatures are low enough. Within three to four weeks, the whole lawn or turf will be covered by proper grass.

It is a cool-growing grass that needs low temperatures around 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit in order to germinate and grow. The right time for germinating seeds is late fall and early winter. Ryegrass turns completely green by the time early spring comes around.

Perennial Ryegrass Features

– It Regenerates Quickly But Has No Wear Tolerance

Like its sister plant, annual Ryegrass, perennial Ryegrass is also sensitive to getting walked on. Even pet animals playing around will damage their delicate grass blades. This is, of course, not the right grass for a household with kids and pets.

The saving grace of this grass is that it has a very good regenerative capacity. The damaged grass leaves get repaired within a short period. Even if large patches of the lawn get damaged, Ryegrass will soon grow back there using its fast-growth habit.

– It Gives the Weed Tough Competition

Perennial Ryegrass is allelopathic and gives any weeds erupting a tough run for their money. They have the unique ability to release plant chemicals and plant hormones into the soil that prevent the growth of surrounding plants.

This property makes it naturally impervious to intermittent attacks of weeds on the lawn. Go for Ryegrass if you are someone who has little time on your hand for lawn maintenance.

You will be surprised to see how little you will have to worry about weed control after planting this grass. The same is true for annual Ryegrass, which also does not let weeds from growing near it.

– Perennial Ryegrass Prevents Soil Erosion

Ryegrass has grown an extensive and interconnected network of roots underground. This happens in a relatively short amount of time, soon after its seed germination.

This system of roots helps keep the soil intact and clumped together. Ryegrass does the opposite, unlike most grass types, such as Kentucky bluegrass, that promote soil erosion because of their shallow roots. 

– It Has a Variable Height Range

If you like, you can mow your perennial and annual Ryegrass at the standard one inch. If the weather is hot and you want the grass blades to conserve water, you can also mow it at three inches long. 

Not many other grass types offer lawn owners the luxury of maintaining them at variable heights throughout the year. It also tends to maintain its superior esthetics regardless of the lengths at which it is mowed and maintained.

– It Will Grow In Shade As Well

Shade tolerance is one of the best properties of this grass. This means you get to plant it even if your lawn stays under shade most of the time. Only four hours of preferably direct or even indirect light each day is enough for Ryegrass to produce the required amount of food. 


What Are The Characteristics of Tall Fescue?

Some characteristics of tall fescue lawn grass you need to know about are that it is a cool-season grass, has a rough and coarse texture, and can tolerate a relatively high level of foot traffic. 

– It Is A Cool Season Grass But Has High Heat Tolerance

Being a cool-season grass, Ryegrass needs colder temperatures to germinate, spread, and stay green. Their grass seeds should be seeded in late autumn, after which they germinate.

In early spring, the grass blades turn their usual bright green. Because temperatures don’t rise above 65 degrees Fahrenheit during summertime in colder regions, this grass remains unaffected. Most other cold-season grasses cannot tolerate temperatures this high.

Tall and fine fescue grass remains green till late in the year. The grass blades will only grow dormant when the winter starts getting cold.

Tall Fescue Requirements

– It Is a Course Grass Type

Fescue is coarse-grained grass, and many people find it unpleasant to touch and walk bare feet on. One side of its grass blade is ribbed and feels coarse if you run your fingers through it.

This property gives this grass an overall unclean and less smooth look. It is then further amplified by the grass-clump-forming habit.

– It Cannot Compete With Weeds

Remember that tall fescue grass is not very good when competing with neighboring grass seeds and weeds. It will soon be overcome with a more competitive grass such as Ryegrass if you ever make the mistake of mixing both.

Similarly, it cannot compete with weeds and other invasive species for water and nutrients in the soil. The result is as you would expect in any such scenario. 

You will have to carry out regular and constant weed uprooting in order to keep your lawn looking lush and fresh. Weeds are best managed by picking them off the soil and their roots, but you can also complement it by spraying a pre-emergent herbicide in late fall.

– It Is Good For High-Traffic Areas

Besides Kentucky bluegrass, the fescues are a type of grass perfect for areas with heavy footfall. By this, we mean it is the grass you can easily walk and play around on without fear of it getting damaged.

Because it is a coarse-textured grass, it is resistant to getting damaged from foot traffic. Even if some patches get damaged somehow, it soon refills that area thanks to its ability to spread rapidly . 

– It Is Difficult To Get Rid Of

Tall fescue may not be inhabiting a lawn by the lawn owner’s personal choice. It is an invasive specie that spreads quickly by growing clumps. If you don’t take prompt action, it will soon take over bald patches and parts of your yard where there is no grass.

The fact that it is a poor competitor of weeds and other grass types means that it will not take over a lawn that it already established with a competitive type of grass. It will, however, still pop up everywhere in the form of weeds.

If fescue is growing anywhere as a weed, it won’t be easy to get rid of. Wherever you see it growing, either pull it out manually or use a post-emergent glyphosate herbicide as the spot treatment. In extreme cases, you may even need to uproot the entire lawn, use herbicide, and then reseed it with the grass seeds of your choice.

– Tall Fescue Is Drought Tolerant

This is one of those grass species that grow an extensive and deep system of roots underground. These roots are deep enough to reach underground water reservoirs and keep the grass hydrated.

This is the reason why this grass has relatively low water requirements. It needs only one inch of water every week, and you don’t have to water it if it has rained recently. Overwatering is often found to cause more damage to fescue than underwater.

Naturally, drought tolerance is one of the selling points of fescue grass. In areas where rain or even ordinary tap water is a prized commodity, you can still maintain a lush lawn with minimum lawn care.

– Several Resistant Varieties Have Been Developed

Ongoing research for several years has led to the creation of tall fescue varieties better adapted to hotter climates. You will also find wide varieties resistant to several common diseases and pests among lawn grasses.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Is Tall Fescue Perennial?

Yes, tall fescue is a perennial grass. A perennial grass does not die at the end of the growing season. Instead, it only grows dormant during the colder winter months but not before itself seeds itself in late fall. 

Tall Fescue Perennial

These seeds germinate through winter, and the grass finally turns green in early spring. This cycle repeats yearly without you having to replant the grass every year. A perennial grass grows thicker and lusher each year, establishing itself more firmly in the turf.

– Does Perennial Ryegrass Die in the Summer?

No, perennial Ryegrass does not die in the summer if grown in colder regions. It only becomes dormant, especially when the temperatures rise too high or a drought hits.

It is not a warm season grass, so don’t make the mistake of planting in the hotter states of the US. in such a case, it will get severely dehydrated and burnt in the summers.

– What Are the Disadvantages of Ryegrass?

One major disadvantage of Ryegrass is that it can prevent other plants from growing in the same soil. They do this by releasing chemicals into the soil that stop the root growth of neighboring grass, trees, and roots.

Another disadvantage is that ryegrass hosts various harmless plant viruses and bacteria. Once planted, Ryegrass grows exponentially and might be super hard to get rid of.


This concludes our exhaustive comparison of two of the most popular cool-season grasses. Perennial Ryegrass is the softer and the faster-growing one out of the two, but tall fescue has more foot tolerance as well as shade and drought tolerance.

After going through our article above, you must have decided which grass you want for your home turf and yard. We prefer the softer feel and texture of Ryegrass over the coarse grass blades of tall fescue, not to mention that it is also much easier to take care of.

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