Kentucky Bluegrass vs Perennial Ryegrass – Which One is Better?

Grass is funny… you think that they’re all the same and that grass is just grass right?

But it’s not.

All grasses have different qualities that make them advantageous in different environments which makes it hard to choose the perfect one for your garden.

With all the wide varieties of grasses you can choose from, you’re probably lost. You do your research, and you stumble across Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass and think “which one is better?”.

That’s where I can help, if you want to know which grass is the better choice between Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass then you’ve come to the right place, read on to discover the verdict!

Key Differences Between Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass

Just like I said before, you might think that all types of grass are more or less identical.

So before we go into detail, here are the main differences when it comes to Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass is very slow to germinate whereas Perennial Ryegrass is known to be a rapid germinating grass type.
  • Kentucky Bluegrass is less susceptible to heat and drought damage.
  • Perennial Ryegrass is most commonly used as an additive to bulk-up other slow growing grasses.

Kentucky Bluegrass

First off, Kentucky Bluegrass is a funny name since it neither came from Kentucky and the grass is actually green, not blue. But put that aside and Kentucky Bluegrass is still the most popular choice of turf across America, and there’s a reason why.

This grass type has a soft and velvety texture and creates a lush and dense turf that can stay healthy for pretty much the majority of the year. Its deep-green color is a major appeal factor when people choose this grass because let’s be real, who doesn’t want a beautiful green lawn?

Kentucky Bluegrass closeup

It’s America’s favorite cool-season grass and has been for ages.

Kentucky Bluegrass is native to Asia and Europe where it flourished in the cooler climates. It was then later introduced to America during early settlement and has since been a steady favorite for many homeowners.

This grass is grown from seed and usually comes in a mixed seed variant due to its slow growing process that sometimes needs support from other – fast-growing – grasses. However, regardless of its slow growth rate, Kentucky Bluegrass is sturdy and highly capable of fast recovery when damaged.

Pros of Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Excellent shade tolerance.
  • Frost tolerance is higher than most grass species.
  • Can withstand a high level of foot traffic.

Cons of Kentucky Bluegrass

  • When exposed to higher temperature, this grass can consume a lot of water.
  • Older varieties can be susceptible to leaf damage and grass disease.
  • Has a shallow rooting system.

Characteristics, Growing Conditions and Growing Conditions

Kentucky Bluegrass is very attractive when it comes to lawns. Its natural dark-green shade is beautiful and has a somewhat blue tint in some lightings, hence the name.

What makes this grass so popular?

Many homeowners want peace of mind when it comes to their gardens, I know I do, and Kentucky Bluegrass is just that – peaceful.

This grass creates a sturdy turf that can withstand heavily cold weather as well as foot traffic. It has a rapid recovery rate as well in the event that it does get damaged.

Quick tip: Due to its slow growing behavior though, Kentucky Bluegrass usually comes in a mixture with other fast growing grass types which help in creating a thick and dense turf.

Kentucky Bluegrass has a shallow root system and whilst it can grow well in full sun it has a medium tolerance to drought so when it receives less water than normal it can turn brown and go dormant. It is better suited to areas of cool weather with humidity and crisp winters where it can receive the appropriate water it needs to survive.

Unlike grasses that grow in bunches, Kentucky Bluegrass grows through underground stems called rhizomes which form a dense thick sod. This growth habit is similar to Bermuda grass and allows it to recuperate quickly from damage.

Aggression and Invasiveness

Despite the slow germination of this grass, once established it can spread quickly via the rhizomes. This rhizome production can stifle out other plant species by crowding them out.

Kentucky Bluegrass has the capability to become weedy if not managed correctly, so whilst it is the favorite grass of America it still does require some attention in order to maintain its pristine look.

Planting and Lawn Care

Kentucky Bluegrass is pretty good in terms of lawn care in that it doesn’t have any extra special needs and wants – your basic lawn care routine is a good place to start.

Whilst it can be maintained using regular lawn care tools, some extra tips and tricks can be applied to promote a healthier and stronger lawn.

Fertilization needs to be done around every month and with Kentucky Bluegrass, choosing a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content will prove to give you the best results.

family house backyard lawn

On top of this, Kentucky Bluegrass prefers to live in acidic soils so if you notice that your grass has yellow patches, the soil is probably too acidic. If your soil is too acidic, give your grass a dose of iron supplement and it should regulate back to alkaline conditions.

Mowing your Kentucky grass should be done once a week and mowed at a higher level than other grasses so raising your lawnmower’s deck between 8 and 12cm is best for Kentucky Bluegrass.

Moreover, watering your lawn is important. To keep this grass looking green and healthy it does need a steady and reliable source of water as when exposed to drought it can turn a brown or yellow color.

Price of Kentucky Bluegrass

This grass is actually relatively cheap, costing around $0.35 to $0.40 per square foot and $160 to $180 per pallet.

The variation in cost depends on the variation of grass as some are cheaper than others.

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass is a popular choice in America for areas in the coastal region due to its versatile pH range in which it can grow, thriving in both alkaline and acidic conditions.

Perennial Ryegrass really doesn’t get the proper recognition that it needs. This grass is widely known as being used as a filler grass in areas such as in the southern states of America where homeowners want green grass all year long. Ryegrass grows in the cooler seasons and hence makes a great additive to warm season grasses when they go dormant.

Perennial Ryegrass closeup

But Perennial Ryegrass is more than just a filler grass, it can shine on its own too.

When grown independently, Ryegrass has a dark green blade color and is hardy as well as low maintenance. This grass has standalone qualities such as pest and disease resistance so you can save time in managing it!

The reason this grass is commonly used in combination with other grasses is due to its speedy germination.

And I mean speedy.

It takes about 5 days for Ryegrass to germinate, which is much faster than many of the grasses that it accompanies such as Kentucky Ryegrass which gas a germination time of up to two weeks!

Pros of Perennial Ryegrass

  • This grass has excellent tolerance to shade.
  • Excellent in coping with harsh winter months.
  • The deep green color is a driving factor in many people choosing this lawn as it adds an essence of health in many gardens!

Cons of Perennial Ryegrass

  • Does require regular fertilization, ideally twice a month.
  • Doesn’t grow through stolons and rhizomes so can grow in clumps which can sometimes appear to be patchy.
  • Has a rough texture so different lawn mowers with dull blades tend to struggle in trimming this grass.

Characteristics, Growing Conditions and Appearance

Perennial Ryegrass is a cool season variant of the grass plant, so it is best used in regions of low temperatures. It is used as a filler for warm season grasses suck as Zoysia and Bermuda where they might struggle to grow.

It has a fast germination rate which means it can act as a temporary grass when mixed with slower growing grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass whilst they slowly germinate.

Unlike many grasses, Perennial Ryegrass doesn’t grow through stolons or rhizomes but primarily through seed meaning it can’t really spread on its own but grows in clumps, similar to Fescue grass.

Quick tip: This grass prefers to grow in cooler weather when it has regular exposure to water as it has pretty shallow roots, so they struggle to retain water for long periods of time, therefore, is less drought resistant than its warmer season counterparts.

Like I said earlier, this grass is certainly not fussy about soil type, in fact it can grow and adapt to changing soil environments such as changes in fertility and pH.

In appearance, Perennial Ryegrass has a deep green color, its appearance is actually very similar to Kentucky Bluegrass the only thing separating it is the leaf shape and texture, ryegrass being softer.

Aggression and Invasiveness of Perennial Ryegrass

Since Perennial Ryegrass doesn’t grow or spread through stolons or rhizomes like other grasses, it can only be established through seed which basically reduced its invasiveness hugely!

Ryegrass is not aggressive in nature, however, does have the ability to out grow and suffocate weeds due to it being allelopathic which means it releases a chemical that kills weeds and grows over them.

Planting and Lawn Care

Perennial Ryegrass is grown and established through seed so in order for it to spread it requires seeding which prevents it from becoming invasive.

When looking after and managing ryegrass, a month-to-month maintenance schedule is the best approach in that it needs a variation of care based on the season.

Mowing needs to be done regularly and at a height of 2” to 2.5” to avoid the clumps being too obvious.

For some extra lawn mowing tips that you can use to improve your mowing game, read my article here!

On top of regular mowing, Perennial Ryegrass also requires proper watering and fertilization.

green grass in sunlight

Correct water amounts are important for this grass as it has shallow roots that struggle to hold onto water which makes it rather sensitive to drought – the best approach is to provide your Ryegrass lawn with regular irrigation.

Bi-monthly fertilization is best during the growing periods and the can be reduced to once a month once the grass is properly established. This grass loves nitrogen so be sure to choose one with a high nitrogen content.

Price of Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass isn’t expensive but is more expensive than Kentucky Ryegrass at a price of $0.35 to $0.65 per square foot and $160 to $295 per pallet, the price differing in terms of species.

Which One is Better – Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Ryegrass?

As always, it is your decision, and it really is down to your needs and wants and what you desire in a garden.

In my opinion, when comparing the ease and usability of each, Kentucky Bluegrass would be my choice of grass for my garden.

It’s America’s favorite for a reason!

Kentucky Bluegrass just appeals to me due to its low maintenance and weather tolerance. It makes for a beautiful lawn in winter and is great for homeowners that entertain a lot due to its heavy foot traffic tolerance.


That’s it folks, now you know the difference between Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass, plus which one is better!

Obviously, preference is down to the user and is judged in terms of their needs and wants.

So, tell me, which one do you prefer and why? I would love to know!

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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