Sod Comparison & Differences
Kentucky Bluegrass vs. Tall Fescue

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 Kentucky Bluegrass sod
Kentucky Bluegrass
vs
Close up photo of Tall Fescue sod
Tall Fescue

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue?

Between these two, Tall Fescue is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.73. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $362.50 per pallet.

Kentucky Bluegrass on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.52 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $262.50 per pallet.

Kentucky BluegrassBudget Friendly
from$0.35 / sq ft
to$0.70 / sq ft
Tall Fescue
from$0.60 / sq ft
to$0.85 / 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?

Kentucky Bluegrass does best with 4 to 6 hours of sunlight, but some shade-tolerant varieties can withstand light shade without significant thinning.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Shade Tolerance4 / 10
Tall Fescue
Shade Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue has one of the better shade tolerances among grass types, performing well with around 4 hours of direct sunlight, ideal for dappled or intermittent shade.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Kentucky Bluegrass (pictured top) and Tall Fescue (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:

Kentucky Bluegrass close up imageTall Fescue close up image

Kentucky Bluegrass comes in with a lush, blue-green color and fine texture, forming a dense turf that's not only a treat for the eyes but also kind to your feet.

Tall Fescue grows thick and green, with wider blades that create a hardy lawn; it's comfortable enough for playtime and stays resilient through rough and tumble activities.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

Kentucky Bluegrass has moderate drought tolerance; it can struggle in extreme dryness but will go dormant and can recover with adequate watering.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Drought Tolerance5 / 10
Tall Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue is reasonably drought tolerant due to its deep root system, but it does best with occasional deep watering during dry spells.

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, Tall Fescue is the better option between Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

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

Kentucky Bluegrass
transition zones
cool zones
Tall Fescue
transition zones
cool zones

Tall Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Tall Fescue is also between 60°F and 75°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 Kentucky Bluegrass and Tall Fescue thrive under pretty similar climatic conditions!

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Kentucky Bluegrass is quite traffic-tolerant, resiliently springing back and self-repairing, making it great for homes that enjoy an active outdoor space.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Traffic Tolerance7 / 10
Tall Fescue
Traffic Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue has good traffic tolerance with its deep roots, making it able to withstand a fair amount of play and use without giving up its lush appearance.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, they are pretty similar in this capacity, so you'll probably want to make your decision based on other factors.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Kentucky Bluegrass takes its time to establish, but its ability to self-repair through underground stems called rhizomes makes it a lush, durable lawn option for cooler climates.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Establishment Rate5 / 10
Tall Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10

Tall Fescue establishes at a moderate rate, presenting a robust, deep-rooted lawn that is heat and drought-tolerant, often recommended for transitional zones.

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

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Kentucky Bluegrass can be prone to pests like billbugs and diseases like rust, requiring attentive maintenance to identify and treat issues early.

Kentucky Bluegrass
Resistance6 / 10
Tall Fescue
Resistance6 / 10

Tall Fescue is fairly resistant to many pests, though it can encounter issues with brown patch and fusarium blight, especially in hot, humid weather.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, they are pretty similar in this respect, so feel free to go with either one!

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Kentucky Bluegrass or Tall Fescue?

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: 7 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 4 for Tall Fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: 4 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Drought Tolerance: 5 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Traffic Tolerance: 7 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Establishment Rate: 5 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 6 for Tall Fescue
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 6 for Kentucky Bluegrass, 6 for Tall Fescue

Drumroll please...

All in all, Tall Fescue comes out on top with a score of 37/60 versus 34/60 for Kentucky Bluegrass.

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