Tall Fescue vs Kentucky Bluegrass – What is the difference?

tall fescue vs kentucky bluegrass

If you reside in a place where whole light is available and temperatures don’t get too hot, Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue grass are both excellent choices. When you compare and closely examine the traits of two of the most well-known cool-season grasses, you will find that they are very different. Both of these grasses would be the best choice for this particular area, but before choosing one, you must consider their individual qualities. In this post, we’ll go through the differences and Comparisons between tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass so you can make an informed decision about which will give you a stunning, thriving lawn.

Comparison Table of Kentucky Bluegrass vs Tall Fescue 

The following table shows the comparison between Kentucky blue grass Vs Tall fescue. Let’s compare quickly:

Characteristic for comparison Kentucky Bluegrass Tall Fescue
MaintenaceHighLow – medium
Growing zones1,3,4,5,6,7,81,3,5,6,7,8,12
Sunlight8 hours of direct sunlight daily4 hours of direct daily sunlight
Type of grassCool-season northern grassCool-season northern grass
HardinessEspecially hardy in colder climatesEspecially hardy in warmer transition zones
Growing season Best growth in cool spring and fallBest growth in cool spring and fall
The Ideal time to plantEarly fallPeak growth periods in spring and fall
Type of growthShallow rhizomes/ self-spreading,sod-formingTillers have limited spreading powers and can clump up.
ConditionsNeed more moisture and fertilizerNeed less moisture and fertilizer
SturdinessSelf-repair from damage, but less tolerant to foot trafficLimited capabilities for self-repairs; but more tolerant to foot traffic
Extra careNeeds dethatchingDoes not require dethatching, however overseeding may be beneficial
pH soil balanceNeeds more nitrogen between 5.8 – 7.0 ( fertilizer)Needs less nitrogen between 5.5 and 7.5. ( fertilizer )
ResistanceLess resistant to disease and weedsMore resistant to disease and weeds
ColorDeep emerald blue-greenMedium to dark green
TextureFine to the medium: easy on bare feetCoarse and clumpy

Fescue vs Bluegrass Identification 

Let’s briefly describe Tall Fescue and Bluegrass so that you can quickly recognize the turf type before we get into more detail about their differences.

1. Kentucky Bluegrass 

Kentucky bluegrass, commonly known as poa pratensis, is a kind of meadow grass indigenous to areas of Europe and northern Asia. However, it is one of the most popular grasses used in backyards with cool-season conditions in regions like Kentucky and Virginia, where it is often cultivated for fodder. It is a perennial grass that will return each year and flourish in the spring and fall.

Identifying Feature 

With medium-to-dark green leaves that are smooth and soft to the touch and have a V-shape, Kentucky bluegrass may reach a height of 20 to 24 inches.

2. Tall Fescue Bluegrass 

Tall Fescue (scientific name: Festuca arundinacea) is another choice for lawn grass among many homeowners, largely due to its toughness and resistance to wear and tear, particularly under conditions of heavy foot traffic. Unlike other grasses, which form sods and spread by themselves, this deep-rooted perennial grows in bunching clusters. Like Kentucky Bluegrass, this kind of grass is well-liked in colder climes and grows more rapidly in the cooler spring and fall months.

Identifying Feature 

Wide leaf blades with equal-sized veins and a medium-coarse texture are characteristics of tall fescue. This specific grass is a medium-green tint that can occasionally take on a bluish-green look.

Which is Better Tall Fescue vs Bluegrass? 

Which grass is best for your lawn, you might be asking now? The basic answer is that tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are both cool-season grasses. Both bloom in the United States’ northern areas. Both have unique aspects as well. However, after reading about the advantages and disadvantages of these grasses, you’ll be in a better position to make a choice.

Pros and cons of Kentucky Bluegrass

Pros

  • Rhizomes are formed as it grows, and it covers bare places on their own.
  • It does well in the United States’ extremely cold northern regions.
  • It handles foot traffic effectively.
  • Kentucky bluegrass thrives in full sun and mild shade, adapting well to most environmental factors.
  • Rhizome growth allows it to spread far and recover quickly.

Cons

  • In comparison to Tall fescue, it needs more nitrogen fertilizer.
  • It goes dormant during the summer season.
  • It also spreads in places where it was not meant to because of sod development.
  • In hot temperatures, it is vulnerable to weed invasion and illness.
  • Bluegrass will fall dormant and lose color in hot, dry conditions that last a while.

Pros and cons of Tall fescue 

Pros

  • Even in warmer weather, it doesn’t go dormant.
  • It grows in clusters rather than spreading like bluegrass.
  • It thrives in gloomy environments and is shade tolerant.
  • Per 1000 square feet of lawn, 1 kg of nitrogen fertilizer is necessary.
  • Both the north and south of the United States are good places for it to grow.

Cons

  • The main drawback is that tall fescue doesn’t cover up barren spots in your lawn because of its deep roots and vertical bunched growth style. Reseeding is needed to achieve this goal.

Difference Between Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass 

The following table shows the difference between tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass:-

                      Tall Fescue              Kentucky Bluegrass
For every 1000 square feet, tall fescue needs one pound of nitrogen fertilizer.Per 1,000 square feet, KBG needs 3 to 6 pounds of nitrogen.
Grows bunchy sods and is more resistant to traffic.Produces thick sods but is less tolerant of road stress.
Tall fescue can take little shade, but it needs four hours of intense sunlight to live.KBG can thrive in the shade, but it needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight to survive.

1. Uses of Tall Fescue and Bluegrass

When turfgrass must withstand a lot of wear and tear, tall fescue is the grass of choice. This implies that it is seeded around walking pathways, in parking lot medians, baseball field stands, and animal pastures. In addition to withstanding traffic, it also fared better than many fine-bladed grass varieties in low nutrition, soil compaction, and high contaminant levels.

However, in a different context, Kentucky bluegrass is also suitable for busy areas. A substantial root and rhizome system is produced by Kentucky bluegrass. But there can be issues with cutting and diffing. As a result, Kentucky bluegrass is perfect for golf courses, sporting fields, and high-traffic lawns that require a smooth feel.

2. Water Requirements of Tall Fescue and Bluegrass 

Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass have different water requirements depending on the weather. Both grass varieties typically need between 1 and 1 1/4 inches of water each week. Tall fescue, on the other hand, has deep roots that can access deep soil and draw water from there. Every week, 2 inches of water are required for the Kentucky bluegrass. However, in the summer, it needs two and a half inches of water, and in hot weather, it becomes dormant. If your grass has sandy soil, it needs 1/2 inches of water every third day.

3. Ph and Soil Types Requirement for Fescue and Bluegrass 

An ideal pH range for tall fescue is between 5.5 and 7.5. The best results are obtained when planted on damp, rich clay soils. Some plant and grass species may even be unable to establish roots due to the extreme compaction of the soil. Tall fescue spreads by growing new clumps of grass at the ends of stiff stolons that it sends out into the surrounding soil, whether compacted or loose. 

 Kentucky bluegrass prefers soil with a pH between 6 and 7. The best soil for Kentucky bluegrass is either rich and moist or well-drained. Once planted, it may even survive for extended periods in muddy circumstances since its root system, and rhizomes will help maintain the grass in the place. 

4. The Durability of Bluegrass and Tall Fescue Grass 

The hardest grass you may select for a lawn is tall fescue. It is tough to muddy circumstances, animal damage from digging, compacted soil, and foot activity. It also has exceptional resistance to insects, molds, mildews, and other typical lawn diseases. It fills in any bald spots fast and establishes itself swiftly.

Kentucky bluegrass tolerates foot activity and mucks well, too. It has a comparable resilience to illnesses and insects and may recover from digging animals. However, kent recovers from diffing and cutting more slowly than tall fescue and needs more moisture and nutrients. It also resists pollutants well, but not as well as tall fescue.

5. Shade and Sunlight Requirement for Fescue and Bluegrass 

However, the part sun is ideal for tall fescue since it does so well there. It may also flourish in full light in colder climates. High temperatures, however, can make tall fescue’s ends seem “burnt” or “rusted” if the necessary moisture levels are not kept, and the grass is exposed to direct sunshine.

Similar to other grasses, Kentucky bluegrass grows most quickly between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is constantly below 50°F or over 80°F, it will go dormant. However, like the sun, Kentucky bluegrass performs best in direct sunshine while it can tolerate brief periods of shadow.

6. Diseases and Pests affecting Fescue and Bluegrass 

Neither tall fescue nor Kentucky bluegrass is more prone to pests, animals, or illness than the normal turfgrass you can get rid of those pests like grubs and worms by spraying homemade insecticide on grass. They also have higher than usual resistance and recovery rates. But tall fescue will bounce back quicker and with fewer resources than Kentucky bluegrass.

7. Mowing needs of Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass 

During the cool seasons, tall fescue has to be mowed once a week to a length of roughly 2 inches due to its usual growth rate. If the weather is dry, mowing might only be necessary once or twice each month after temperatures reach an average of 85F or above. The probability of “burnt” ends is decreased in hot weather by trimming the grass to a height of 3″.

With no negative effects, Kentucky bluegrass can be mowed as short as 1″ or as high as 3″. However, the shorter it is, the more frequently it will need to be mowed for an even appearance—up to twice a week—because this grass species grows quickly throughout the chilly season. If trimmed shorter than 2 inches, a Kentucky bluegrass lawn also needs numerous annual dethatching.

8. Grasses related to Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue grass 

Types of grass related to Kentucky bluegrass –

Have a problem with regular water restrictions and droughts? In your location, are grubs a big source of worry? Are you having second thoughts about your decisions because of the common Kentucky bluegrass’s dormant temperature range? There are strains designed specifically to assist you. To help you grow the ideal lawn you could imagine, Kentucky bluegrass contains over 200 specialized and patented strains. Some of them can even be used in conjunction with one another to resolve various problems or lessen the harm caused by certain pests.

Types of grass related to Tall fescue –

Fine fescue is the primary rival of tall fescue. This much larger group of fescue grasses includes red fescue and creeping fescue. The good news is that these fescues’ growth rates, temperature demands, and nutritional requirements are comparable. Additionally, they are all softer than tall fescue. The issue is that they are not nearly as resilient to misuse or heavy traffic as tall fescue.

Conclusion 

Popular grass species like tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass may thrive when planted in the right conditions and are relatively adapted to various locations. Make sure you choose the right kind of grass for your garden. Both Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue are amazing grass choices! Your lawn should remain healthy and green for many years if you make a good decision and take the necessary precautions.

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