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Perennial Ryegrass vs Kentucky Bluegrass

Perennial Ryegrass vs Kentucky Bluegrass

Are you having trouble selecting the best grass for your lawn? Both Perennial Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass are cold-season grasses that perform well for lawns, but you need to understand their pros and cons before settling on either. 

Kentucky Bluegrass is versatile; every homeowner knows this. But Perennial Ryegrass also has numerous benefits, such as a quicker germination rate.

This article will compare Perennial Ryegrass vs Kentucky Bluegrass, giving you all the information you need to select your next lawn grass.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass(Lolium perenne) is a bunch type grass that does well in most soil types. It germinates fast, so you’ll have a neat green lawn in no time.

Perennial Ryegrass is durable, provided its growth conditions are met. Since it is a bunch-type of grass, it spreads by growing bigger, unlike Kentucky Bluegrass which spreads through rhizomes. Perennial Ryegrass loves moderate summers and cool winters. It’s used in most permanent and temporary lawns in the northern and southern regions.

Its pros include:

  • Quick germination rate
  • Fairly durable if cared for properly
  • Fairly drought resistant
  • Somewhat insect and disease resistant.
  • Good at preventing soil erosion

Perennial Ryegrass is primarily used in golf courses such as the August National Golf Club and Wimbledon Tennis Club.

Some of its cons include:

  • It is not shade tolerant and prefers sunny regions
  • It does not spread by stolons and rhizomes (grows in clumps)
  • Can die in harsh winters (isn’t as hardy as Kentucky Bluegrass)

Kentucky Bluegrass

Another famous lawn pasture is Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis). This slow germinating lawn grass has a soft texture, making it a good option for high-traffic areas. It spreads by rhizomes, so it can cover your lawn once it germinates.

Its pros include:

  • Forms a thick sod that controls weeds
  • It’s versatile
  • Drought and cold resistant
  • Can handle traffic well.

Kentucky Bluegrass is used in football fields, lawns, school campuses due to its ability to handle high traffic.

Its cons include:

  • It is very high maintenance in summer.
  • Its roots can recede due to heat and drought stress.

Also read: Suitable grass for muddy lawn

How Does Perennial Ryegrass vs Kentucky Bluegrass Compare?

  1. Roots– The roots of Kentucky Bluegrass contain rhizomes, which it uses to spread horizontally above ground. On the other hand, Perennial Ryegrass only grows in a bunch with fibrous roots that clump together.
  2. Germination – Perennial Ryegrass outperforms bluegrass due to its fast germination rate. It can go from seed to full mowable lawn in just three weeks.
  3. Durability – both turf types of grass are relatively durable. However, Kentucky Bluegrass performs better due to its higher shade tolerance and traffic tolerance.
  4. Texture – Kentucky Bluegrass has a fine, velvety texture with a deep green color, while Perennial Ryegrass is medium textured with a pale green hue.
  5. Weather – Kentucky Bluegrass is an excellent winter grass due to its high tolerance for cold. It also does well in hot months, but it requires a lot of water to keep it going. On the other hand, Ryegrass does well in its identified growth zones. It doesn’t do well in extreme conditions. However, you can still use it in winter to overseed lawns and cover up any patches.

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Also read: Do I need to put hay over grass seed?

FAQ Section: Perennial Ryegrass vs Kentucky Bluegrass

Is Perennial Ryegrass Suitable for Lawns?

Despite the name, ryegrass isn’t related to the cereal rye plant. Therefore, it works well as lawn grass and pasture grass for animals.

Due to its fast germination rate, it is used in most parts of the country either as pure lawn grass or mixed with other grasses like the Kentucky Bluegrass as a nurse grass.

Also read: Can overseeding change grass type

How Do You Tell the Difference Between Ryegrass and Kentucky Bluegrass?

You can tell Perennial Ryegrass apart from Kentucky Bluegrass by their leaves, roots, and growing mechanisms. With Kentucky Bluegrass, you will notice runners above ground that have rhizomes, while Perennial Ryegrass will grow in a bunch.

The leaf tips of Kentucky Bluegrass are canoe-shaped, and if you run your fingers along the blade, the top splits into two. It has a prominent midrib that runs along the middle of the leaf as well.

On the other hand, Perennial Ryegrass can be identified by its bright and narrow leaves. The back of the leaf is very shiny compared to Kentucky Bluegrass. It also has a  reddish-purple hue at the base of its stem (below ground).

Kentucky Bluegrass is fine textured, while Perennial Ryegrass is medium textured. Kentucky Bluegrass feels soft under the feet, and the footprints spring back up

Can I Mix Perennial Ryegrass With Kentucky Bluegrass?

Yes. You may be wondering, what is a Kentucky Bluegrass Ryegrass mix? Planting a pure lawn in a new area can be risky, especially if there isn’t evidence of the grass performing well there.

Homeowners usually purchase seed mixtures for lawns so that, in case one seed variety fails, the others can still germinate and develop into a lawn. There are various reasons why you may want to plant a mix of these grasses rather than a single variety.

Why Mix Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass?

A Kentucky Bluegrass ryegrass mix refers to a ratio of the two types of grass planted together. Since Perennial Ryegrass germinates faster, it will sprout earlier and provide shade and protection to Kentucky Bluegrass.

Kentucky Bluegrass, on the other hand, once it germinates, will cover up any patches left behind by Perennial Ryegrass. It is best suited for this job since it grows horizontally along the ground. This way, you will end up with a thick mowable sod in about 28 days.

Since Perennial Ryegrass germinates quickly, it’s good at competing with weeds, hence can outperform them. Kentucky Bluegrass also forms a dense sod once it matures, thus choking out any weeds. This mix is the perfect combo if you don’t want to deal with uninvited plants.

If you’re looking for lawn grass that can tolerate traffic and has a rich color and velvety texture, then Kentucky Bluegrass is the lawn grass for you.

However, if you’re trying to reclaim a construction site or just cover up your lawn quickly, then you might want to go for Perennial Ryegrass as it establishes pretty fast and doesn’t look too bad.

Make sure you don’t confuse Perennial Ryegrass and Annual Ryegrass, as the two are quite similar. However, annual ryegrass dies out after a year of growth, while Perennial Ryegrass can keep growing for several years provided you care for it well.

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