Grass Facts: Perennial Ryegrass

June 4, 2018



Annual ryegrass is a valuable rapidly growing cover crop. It aids in breaking up hard soils, better allowing roots to absorb nitrogen.


What is Perennial Ryegrass Used For?
There are a number of benefits to planting perennial ryegrass. Perennial ryegrass uses extend from using as a pasture grass or as sod for the home lawn. It is considered the best cool season perennial pasture grass in many areas. Planting perennial ryegrass for pasture has many benefits. It establishes rapidly, is high yielding with a long growing season, is highly nutritious, recovers well from grazing and tolerates traffic. This perennial grass is highly digestible for ruminants and is valuable not only as pasture but hay and silage as well.


Perennial ryegrass is also used for home lawns and other areas requiring attractive turf such as golf course fairways and tees or baseball fields. It wears well, germinates rapidly and maintains a lush appearance. Other perennial ryegrass information states that it has the highest wear tolerance of all the cool season grasses and is forgiving of very high traffic, making it perfect for use around schools and in park settings.


All the above perennial ryegrass information lends it as the perfect candidate for over-seeding winter dormant lawns and its rapid growth aids in weed suppression.


Perennial Ryegrass Care
Perennial ryegrass is used in cool, temperate climates well suited to coastal regions with moderate temps throughout the year. It thrives in full sun, but will do well in partial shade. It does not tolerate drought or long periods of extreme heat. Like all ryegrasses, it flourishes in fertile, well-draining soil, but perennial ryegrass handles wet soils better than other ryes.


Perennial ryegrass has a bunchgrass growth habit without rhizomes or stolons and perennial ryegrass care ranks between moderate and high maintenance depending upon environmental conditions. Seed at the rate of 6-9 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet in the fall, or use sod. Germination should take place between 3-5 days and mature turf will take hold within 4-8 weeks.


This fine-textured, rich green grass should be mowed when used as lawn cover between 1.5 and 2.5 inches high. When planting perennial ryegrass to over seed warm season grasses, begin mowing in the spring and gradually reduce its height to encourage growth of the warm season grass. Fertilize this ryegrass with 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq feet per year during its active growth period – February through June or October through December. Water this grass often to a depth of 6-12 inches unless used to over seed, in which case water deeply but less often.


All in all, perennial ryegrass is an excellent pastoral or turf choice of grass for cool weather regions.

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