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Can You Mix Tall Fescue and Ryegrass?

Two great-looking grass options, but do they play well together?

By
Sean Stratton | Updated January 5, 2023
Fescue and Ryegrass

Are you thinking of mixing Fescue and Ryegrass? Ryegrass germinates faster, and fescues require low maintenance. Both types of grass will look amazing in the yard.

Can you mix tall fescue and ryegrass? Yes, you can mix tall fescue and ryegrass. Ryegrass will take less time to germinate and establish. Hence, it will serve as a nurse grass and allow fescue to grow alongside it.

However, simply mixing these grasses is not enough to achieve a lush green lawn. There are many other things you need to know before getting started with this duo. That’s why, in this article, we are going in-depth to give you some more useful info about these grasses.

Also Read: The Right Time to Water Your Lawn in Spring

What Grass Mixes Well with Ryegrass?

There are many types of ryegrass; annual, perennial, wild, winter, Italian ryegrass, and more. Among them, perennial ryegrass comes with a lot of advantages.

This grass germinates and establishes quickly. Since it establishes quickly, it can provide protection and shade to other lawn grass species like Kentucky bluegrass.

On the other hand, annual ryegrass works better with centipede grass, while perennial ryegrass may not work with it as nicely as annual ryegrass. Plus, you can grow fescue with ryegrass. If you mix them in the right amount, they will do great as well.

Mixing Tall Fescue and Ryegrass

When supporting new grass sprouts on your lawn, perennial ryegrass is one of the most effective options. This fantastic grass can reach a mowable condition in roughly about 3 weeks (21 days) after spreading the seeds.

Since this grass germinates way faster than other grass types, it establishes before other grasses. It can take up to 3 weeks for Kentucky bluegrass to get started, whereas, ryegrass has already or almost reached the mowable condition by then.

As a result, it provides protection and shade when other grass species are around, Kentucky bluegrass, for example. That’s why this grass is known as nurse grass. However, you may notice problems if you mix perennial ryegrass with tall fescue grass. These two types of grass may compete, and you certainly don’t want that to happen.

So, if you want to mix ryegrass with tall fescue, make sure the percentage of ryegrass does not exceed 40%. According to that measure, if you want to make an ideal mixture of 5 pounds of grass for a thousand square feet area, you can mix 3 pounds of fescue with 2 pounds of ryegrass.

There is another smart option you can choose, and that is to mix tall fescue with annual ryegrass. Annual ryegrass grows quickly, covers the area fast, and helps other grass species to grow that usually grow slowly. After the growing season is over, annual ryegrass will die off and hence other nearby grass species will get the full space to thrive.

Next Read: Learn More about Fertilizer Spikes

Perennial Ryegrass vs Tall Fescue

When we are selecting the best grass for lawns, both ryegrass and fescue are tough competitors. They both have some advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at them closely so that you can get clear ideas to consider one as the winner.

Appearance:

The first thing we can compare between these grasses is their appearance.

  • Perennial ryegrass: It has a bright green color which will make one fall in love with it. Plus, it has smooth and fine blades, which makes it a great choice for decorating the lawn.
  • Tall fescue: The color is typically darker compared to ryegrass. The blades are coarse.

Germination and Growth:

  • Perennial ryegrass: This grass germinates and establishes quickly. It germinates and grows so quickly that it can provide shade to other nearby grass species.
  • Tall fescue: Tall fescue is a slow grower compared to perennial ryegrass.

Texture and Resistance:

  • Perennial ryegrass: It has a medium texture and for lawns, perennial ryegrass is somewhat delicate. If you have playful kids or pets, this grass may not be the best option for your lawn. For example, pet urine can create dead patches on the grass if it is not diluted well. So, if you have pets, you might want to avoid this grass.
  • Tall fescue: Unlike perennial ryegrass, tall fescues are tough and have a coarse texture, and they can withstand heavy traffic. This grass can be commonly seen in tracks, baseball fields, etc.

Environment Preferences:

  • Perennial ryegrass: This grass prefers well-drained, dry soil. You should keep the pH level from 5.5 to 7.5, not more than that. It requires an average amount of water. It loves sunlight.
  • Tall fescue: This grass loves rich soil that contains a lot of clay. It loves shady areas. The soil pH and watering needs are the same as perennial ryegrass.

Maintenance:

  • Perennial ryegrass: In cooler seasons, mowing your perennial ryegrass only once a week is quite enough. However, at the height of hot summer, mowing twice a month is sufficient. You should keep the grass about two inches in height.
  • Tall fescue: The mowing routine for tall fescue is quite the same. When the season is nice and cool, you can shorten the grass to about two inches.  However, when the temperature rises to more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you can shorten it to three inches.

These are the basic differences between the two grass types. You can recheck the difference before selecting one as your primary lawn grass.

An excellent video guide:

Will Tall Fescue Choke Out Ryegrass?

If you are mixing tall fescue with annual ryegrass, it shouldn’t be a problem. Annual ryegrass will grow quickly and after the growing season, it will die off.

However, perennial ryegrass may cause some trouble. That’s why you can take proper measures earlier. Like we said before, while mixing tall fescue and ryegrass, the percentage of ryegrass should not exceed 40%.

Final Thoughts

Ryegrass and tall fescue, both are amazing grass. Both have some advantages over the other. If you want the goodness of both, you can mix them in the proper amount and enjoy a lawn with two beautiful grass types.

In this guide, we talked about mixing ryegrass with tall fescue to help you achieve a lush green lawn with two wonderful grass species. So, keep the information in mind before making a mix of grass seeds.

Written by Sean Stratton

Sean Stratton

Hi, I'm Sean, the senior editor here at Fertilizer Pick. I grew up on a farm in North Carolina and have grown fruits, vegetables, and trees since childhood. While I no longer live on a farm today, I still enjoy spending time on my garden and sharing my knowledge with friends and fellow garden enthusiasts.