Sod Comparison & Differences
Perennial Ryegrass 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 Perennial Ryegrass sod
Perennial Ryegrass
vs
Close up photo of Tall Fescue sod
Tall Fescue

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Perennial Ryegrass 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.

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.

Perennial RyegrassBudget Friendly
from$0.30 / sq ft
to$0.65 / 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?

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

Perennial Ryegrass
Shade Tolerance6 / 10
Tall Fescue
Shade Tolerance7 / 10

Similarly, 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 Perennial Ryegrass (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:

Perennial Ryegrass close up imageTall Fescue close up image

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.

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?

Perennial Ryegrass has limited drought tolerance and may require regular watering to maintain its lush appearance.

Perennial Ryegrass
Drought Tolerance3 / 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 Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

Perennial Ryegrass generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. The ideal temperature range for laying Perennial Ryegrass sod is between 55°F and 80°F.

Perennial Ryegrass
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 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 Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue thrive under pretty similar climatic conditions!

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

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

Perennial Ryegrass
Traffic Tolerance9 / 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, Perennial Ryegrass is the better option between Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

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

Perennial Ryegrass
Establishment Rate9 / 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, Perennial Ryegrass is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

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.

Perennial Ryegrass
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, Perennial Ryegrass 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: 8 for Perennial Ryegrass, 4 for Tall Fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: 6 for Perennial Ryegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Drought Tolerance: 3 for Perennial Ryegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Traffic Tolerance: 9 for Perennial Ryegrass, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Establishment Rate: 9 for Perennial Ryegrass, 6 for Tall Fescue
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 6 for Perennial Ryegrass, 6 for Tall Fescue

Drumroll please...

All in all, Perennial Ryegrass comes out on top with a score of 41/60 versus 37/60 for Tall Fescue.

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