8 Types Of Ryegrass [Do You Know Them All?]

Ryegrass is a type of grass that has dark green blades that sometimes appear glossy. The plant belongs to the family Poaceae. These grasses have an extensive root system that is super great for erosion control. Many types of ryegrass are considered turfgrasses, offering green cover all winter long. Some ryegrass varieties work exceptionally well as a grazing grass in pastures. 

Close up shot of an annual ryegrass, 8 Types Of Ryegrass [Do you know them all?]


As you can tell probably already tell, ryegrasses exhibit quite the array of attributes. If you're interested in what ryegrass could do for your landscape, follow along to find out more about 8 different types of ryegrass!

1. Wild Ryegrass

Wild ryegrass resembles a cross between Saltgrass and Bermuda grass. It grows from extensive creeping rhizomes, which are horizontal underground root systems that spurt shoots at various intervals. The grass blades can grow up to 10 cm in height and span a width of 1 cm. The blades are flat and look and feel relatively stiff. 

Wild ryegrass is native to the western United States, spanning from California and up to Washington state then east to Montana. Many times it will grow in clumps in the wild, but it can also be planted and used for groundcover and erosion control. 

Its Latin name is Elymus triticoides.

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2. Cereal Ryegrass

Cereal ryegrass, or winter rye, is considered a cover crop and is technically a cereal grain. A ryegrass cover crop is one that covers a farmland field and helps suppress weed growth and germination as well as add nutrients to the soil and serve as erosion-control.

Cereal ryegrass resembles wheats and oats in appearance, growth, production, and use. It's an upright annual grass that can grow to a height between 3 and 6 feet. It has tall, flat, leaf blades and awned flower spikes (that look like wheat).

It's a cool-season annual cereal grain. It grows best in cool, temperate zones, but can adapt to other zones. It's best to plant this crop in light loamy or sandy soils if possible. It has a fast-growing fibrous root system that absorbs the unused nitrogen in the soil.  

Its Latin name is Secale cereale.

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3. Annual Ryegrass

Annual ryegrass is an annual grass that grows best in cool seasons. Its habit of growth is bunch-type, meaning the blades of grass appear bunched together. It's a well-loved turfgrass, providing bright green winter color to the lawn. Annual ryegrass seeds may also be used in conjunction with other grass seeds for cool-season cover. This type of grass is also great for preventing erosion, ridding weeds, and maintaining healthy, nutrient-rich soil.

Plant the seeds in the fall in order to enjoy its winter colors. It has very poor drought and heat tolerance, so you'll have to give it regular attention. Fertilize the ground each year during the fall and spring growing seasons. 

Its Latin name is Lolium multiflorum.

Read more: When Does Annual Ryegrass Die?

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4. Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass is another cool-season grass that provides a gorgeous green lawn from the fall through the spring. It germinates very quickly, ensuring you get growth after only a few days after planting! It works great for a variety of uses, pastures and lawns alike. It has a very high wear-tolerance, meaning it can handle a lot of foot traffic and other wear.

It can tolerate some shade, but it does need several hours of sunlight each day. It flourishes best in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. It has a bunched habit of growth, giving it lots of depth and making it visually appealing. Fertilize it each year with nitrogen during its active growth period. 

Its Latin name is Lolium perenne.

Read more: 11 Perennial Ryegrass Facts For Lawn Owners

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5. Marshall Ryegrass

Marshall ryegrass is a cold-tolerant annual grass variety that's an excellent option for regions of the country that endure cold climates. It's commonly used in pastures for grazing and foraging, grown as a cover crop, and grown for hay production. It has rapid germination, ensuring quick growth.

Marshall ryegrass adapts well to a variety of soils. It can even tolerate short periods of temporary flooding and wet soils. The best time to plant this grass is in the fall or winter months. It's responsive to a nitrogen fertilizer, so consider using it during its growing months. 

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6. Italian Ryegrass

Italian ryegrass is a cool-season, winter annual grass or a biennial bunchgrass. It has a bunching habit of growth and has a glossy look on the underside of the blades. Italian ryegrass has a solitary spike than can measure between 4 and 16 inches in height and consists of little spikelets. Each spikelet has around 10 florets (small flowers).

It's a top pick for use as a pasture grass, perfect for foraging. For cows, it has a high digestibility factor. It's also easy to establish and it responds well to nitrogen fertilizer. Italian ryegrass establishes itself quickly, with germination only taking 7 to 10 days. It can grow in a wide variety of soil types but prefers the soil it to be nutrient-rich and well-draining. 

Its Latin name is Lolium multiflorum.

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7. Intermediate Ryegrass

Intermediate ryegrass is a short-living perennial cool-season grass that has a bunching habit of growth. This type of grass is a cross between annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass. This grass is typically used in mixtures for overseeding warm-season grasses as well as in pastures for grazing and used as excellent turfgrass.

It establishes itself very quickly, taking only 7 to 10 days. It prefers to grow in milder climates but can tolerate very chilly environments as well. 

Its Latin name is Lolium hybridum.

8. Festulolium

Festulolium is a hybrid cross between ryegrass and fescue. As a hybrid, it performs better than the individual grasses on their own. This perennial bunchgrass is mainly planted in pastures for grazing, silage, and green chop. Due to being a hybrid, it has higher foraging yields than ordinary perennial ryegrasses do. It also has high disease resistance and winter hardiness. 

This type of ryegrass does best in nutrient-rich, well-draining soils. It establishes quickly and has rapid germination. Fertilize the Festulolium with nitrogen; start with 1/3 of the amount during the springtime then apply the remainder evenly after each harvest or grazing session. 

Its Latin name is Festulolium braunii.

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We hope this guide has helped you better understand the different types of ryegrass. Before you go, be sure to check out these other great gardening guides:

What's The Best Grass For Shade In The South?

9 Types Of Sod Grass That May Be A Good Fir For Your Lawn

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