Rye Grass Vs. Fescue

Updated February 21, 2017

Rye and fescue are both cold-season grasses that grow in the Northern and transitional states. They are both quick to germinate and are good for covering slopes. Although they are similar, there are some differences.


Fescue is perennial grasses, which means it has lifespan of more than one year. The various types of rye grasses come as both annual and perennial grasses. An annual grass must be replanted or reseeded the following year.


Fescue is more tolerant of shade than ryes. Fescue also has a wider range of where it grows. Fescue grows well in transitional zones where the weather is hot. Because it tolerates cold temperatures, it is more adaptable.

Ground Cover, Traits

Rye grass is considered excellent for providing groundcover. Fescue is also good for groundcover, but not rated as highly in this area as rye. Conversely, fescue is more durable and better for play areas. Perennial and annual rye grasses have a coarse texture. Creeping red fescue has a fine texture.

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