Rye Grass Characteristics

There are several types of rye grasses, which are the most commonly grown cool-season grasses worldwide, according to Pennsylvania State University. Some are grown as turf grass and used in home, business or recreational landscaping. Others are grown for grazing and foraging purposes. Regardless of the use or specific type, rye grasses have many characteristics in common with each other.

Cool Season

Rye grasses are cool-season grasses. This means that the grass grows well in areas that have moderate climates year-round, according to the University of California. It does not tolerate hot temperatures very well, but it will grow in cold temperatures. In the South, this grass is often used as food for livestock during the cool winter and spring months.

Fertile Soil

All rye grasses grow in the same conditions, although perennial rye grass can tolerate wetter soil than the foraging types, according to the University of California. Rye grasses love rich, fertile soil that remains cool and moist throughout the growing season. Ironically, these grasses also thrive in full sunlight, which means rainfall or consistent irrigation is often the key to good growth. For this reason, rye grass is often mixed with other grasses such as Kentucky blue grasses. Otherwise, high maintenance may be needed to maintain high moisture and nitrogen levels in the soil. Rye grasses will not tolerate shade well, nor will they grow in drought conditions.

High Yield

Rye grass is a high-yielding turf grass or crop. It sprouts quickly, grows rapidly and even re-seeds itself. Rye grass also tolerates repeated, close grazing and has a high nutrient content, making it an economical choice over time for a foraging grass, although it can be expensive to establish, according to the University of Florida. These grasses also have a very long growing season, stretching from spring to fall.


All rye grasses are very hardy. Perennial rye grass can tolerate high levels of foot traffic better than any other cold-season grass, according to the University of California. For this reason, it is often used in schools and other high-use areas. Rye grasses are also very disease-resistant and compete well with weeds. The quick germination and rapid growth of the grass makes it difficult for weeds to establish themselves.

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About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.