Sod Comparison & Differences
Fine Fescue vs. Perennial Ryegrass

Let's dive into a side-by-side comparison of these two grasses. We're looking at everything from cost and looks to how well they stand up to drought, shade, and foot traffic. Stick around to see which one comes out on top!

Close up photo of Fine Fescue sod
Fine Fescue
vs
Close up photo of Perennial Ryegrass sod
Perennial Ryegrass

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Fine Fescue or Perennial Ryegrass?

Between these two, Fine Fescue is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.60. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $300.00 per pallet.

Perennial Ryegrass on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.48 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $237.50 per pallet.

Fine Fescue
from$0.45 / sq ft
to$0.75 / sq ft
Perennial RyegrassBudget Friendly
from$0.30 / sq ft
to$0.65 / sq ft

Editor's note: It's important to remember that both of these are averages based on data from around the country so cost can vary depending on your location. Keep in mind this doesn't include other fees like delivery or installation.

See our sod calculator to get a comprehensive sod estimate.

Shade Tolerance

Which grass grows better in the shade?

Fine Fescue stands out for shade tolerance, needing as little as 3 to 4 hours of direct sun each day and flourishing even in heavily shaded lawn areas.

Fine Fescue
Shade Tolerance9 / 10
Perennial Ryegrass
Shade Tolerance6 / 10

On the other hand, Perennial Ryegrass can survive with 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day and is moderately shade-tolerant, coping well with partial shade.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Fine Fescue (pictured top) and Perennial Ryegrass (pictured bottom), personal preference plays a significant role, but understanding the nuances of each type's appearance can guide your decision. Here's what to consider:

Fine Fescue close up imagePerennial Ryegrass close up image

Fine Fescue is all about the delicate look and feel; its fine blades knit together for a soft, green pasture that's easy on the eyes and gentle for your soles.

Perennial Ryegrass offers a bright green lawn with fine blades that grow quickly into a soft, welcoming turf perfect for everything from picnics to soccer games.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

Fine Fescue is one of the more drought tolerant among cool-season grasses, able to survive dry conditions with minimal watering.

Fine Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10
Perennial Ryegrass
Drought Tolerance3 / 10

On the other hand, Perennial Ryegrass has limited drought tolerance and may require regular watering to maintain its lush appearance.

Takeaway: If you're located in a somewhat dry and arid geographic region and are looking for a grass that can handle drought-like conditions, Fine Fescue is the better option between Fine Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

Fine Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. The ideal temperature range for laying Fine Fescue sod is between 60°F and 75°F.

Fine Fescue
transition zones
cool zones
Perennial Ryegrass
transition zones
cool zones

Perennial Ryegrass generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Perennial Ryegrass is between 55°F and 80°F. If you choose to lay outside of the ideal range, you can still have success, but it may take a longer time to esablish and require a bit more maintenance.

As you may have noticed, both Fine Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass thrive under pretty similar climatic conditions!

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Fine Fescue has lower traffic tolerance and is best for ornamental areas or yards that don’t see intense games and heavy footfall.

Fine Fescue
Traffic Tolerance3 / 10
Perennial Ryegrass
Traffic Tolerance9 / 10

On the other hand, Perennial Ryegrass is highly traffic tolerant, recovering quickly from wear and tear, a solid choice for lawns that double as weekend soccer pitches.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, Perennial Ryegrass is the better option between Fine Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Fine Fescue is slow to establish but eventually forms a low-growing, fine-textured turf that's shade-tolerant and suited for cooler climates or less trafficked areas.

Fine Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10
Perennial Ryegrass
Establishment Rate9 / 10

Perennial Ryegrass germinates rapidly and establishes quickly, offering a fine-textured, vibrant green turf that is popular for overseeding and cool-season lawns.

Net, net - if you're looking for a grass that establishes quickly, Perennial Ryegrass is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Fine Fescue, while resistant to most common pests, can sometimes be troubled by red thread and other fungal diseases, particularly in damp conditions. Overall, it's a solid choice if you're worried about pests.

Fine Fescue
Resistance7 / 10
Perennial Ryegrass
Resistance6 / 10

Perennial Ryegrass is generally hardy against pests and diseases, but it can experience problems with gray leaf spot and is attractive to webworms and billbugs.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, Fine Fescue edges out the competition.

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Fine Fescue or Perennial Ryegrass?

Alright it's time to count the scores up.

Most blogs or articles are going to give you a wishy washy "it's up to you" speil. That is definitely true. You'll need to choose based on your geographic conditions and what you like most looks-wise.

That being said, if we just compare the scores based on the following measures. Higher is better in this case.

  • Average Cost: 6 for Fine Fescue, 8 for Perennial Ryegrass
  • Shade Tolerance: 9 for Fine Fescue, 6 for Perennial Ryegrass
  • Drought Tolerance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 3 for Perennial Ryegrass
  • Traffic Tolerance: 3 for Fine Fescue, 9 for Perennial Ryegrass
  • Establishment Rate: 6 for Fine Fescue, 9 for Perennial Ryegrass
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 6 for Perennial Ryegrass

Drumroll please...

All in all, Perennial Ryegrass comes out on top with a score of 41/60 versus 38/60 for Fine Fescue.

Thanks for reading! If you have any feedback or corrections for us, please email our editor at editor@sodcalculator.com.