Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue vs. Kentucky bluegrass- What do you need to know before growing either of them in your lawn?

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If you are living in the cool season and transition zones of the United States and you are looking to establish a lush lawn, then you may need to look into Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. These are both cool-season grasses that flourish during fall and spring and are able to withstand chilly winters and slightly hot summers. Because of this you are able to keep a lush and green lawn throughout the year.

In as much as the Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass have similar characteristics, they slightly differ depending on what you intend to use your lawn for and the climate that your environment experiences throughout the year.

In this article, we will look into the characteristics of the Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Bluegrass and let you understand what you need to consider before choosing the right grass for your lawn.

Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue vs. Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue

When compared to other Tall Fescue grass varieties, Kentucky Tall Fescue has a light green color with wide leaf blades. Its leaves have a coarse texture at the top and are shiny at the bottom.

Tall fescue grass has been used as pasture for livestock but its lucrative green color allows it to be used for lawns too. Aside from that it is able to grow in sloppy areas and helps control erosion. It is disease resistant and heat tolerant which is an important feature for durability in lawns and turfs and can grow comfortably in low maintenance areas.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Pennington Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue Grass Seed, 25 LB
  • Grows well in full sun to medium-shaded areas
  • Durable, low-maintenance grass seed
  • Produces a lighter green, drought-resistant lawn
Bestseller No. 2
The Dirty Gardener Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue Lawn Grass - 50 Pounds
  • This Kentucky blend is light green and has a course texture
  • Has an increased heat tolerance over other fescues
  • Tolerates drought and foot traffic very well

Kentucky bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass has a smooth texture and is dark green in color. Its leaves have a boat-shaped tip and as it grows, it has shallow roots which reduces its tolerance to extremely high temperatures. Contrary to this, it requires a lot of sunlight to thrive.

Kentucky bluegrass started off as pasture but has slowly been adopted into being used in laws because of its green color. It is a perennial cool season grass and it regenerates throughout the year but its peak flourishing period is in the times of fall and spring. It has a high tolerance to cold seasons compared to other cool season grass.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix - 7 lb., Use in Full Sun, Light Shade, Fine Bladed Texture, and Medium Drought Resistance, Seeds up to 4,660 sq. ft.
  • Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Kentucky Bluegrass Mix continuously self-repairs to withstand wear and tear for a thick, durable lawn
  • Kentucky Bluegrass seed mix designed for full sun and light shade, with a fine bladed texture and medium drought resistance
  • Exclusive 4 in 1 WaterSmart PLUS Coating absorbs more water, feeds with essential nutrients and protects seedlings from disease
Bestseller No. 2
Jacklin Seed - Biltmore Blue Blend - 100% Kentucky Bluegrass | Certified Grass Seed (5 lbs (2000 sq ft))
  • KEY FEATURES: Grass seed mix contains 100% Kentucky Bluegrass. For different low mow Kentucky Bluegrasses specialty selected to provide peak performance in heat, drought, and humidity while providing shade tolerance with a quick spring green-up. Kentucky Bluegrass is great for wear tolerance, vigorous recuperative ability, and broad-based disease resistance while maintaining high summer density.
  • APPLICATION RATE: 2.5 lbs per 1,000 sq. ft. (ex. if you have 10,000 sq ft to seed, purchase a 25 lb bag) When seeding new lawn and/or overseeding existing lawn, use with starter fertilizer. (We suggest:
  • WHEN TO APPLY: Spring and fall (60°F and 80°F) are the best times to seed, but can be used anytime during the growing season applicable to your region. Grass seed germinates when soil temperatures are consistently above 50°F. This roughly corresponds to daytime air temperatures between 60°F to 75°F. If grass seed is applied in fall, any ungerminated grass seeds will remain dormant throughout winter, then germinate when soil temperatures reach 50°F in spring.

How do the characteristics of the two compare?

Besides the fact that you should choose Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue for heavy traffic areas and Bluegrass for lower traffic areas that are constantly moist, there are other important factors that you need to look into before choosing the appropriate grass for your lawn.

Establishment and growth

Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Bluegrass have different establishment timings based on their seed germination and sod formation. If you want to establish a lawn within a very short period of time then Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue would be an ideal option because its seeds take a shorter time to germinate as compared to Bluegrass.

However, a disadvantage of Tall Fescue is that it grows in clumps instead of spreading which may leave bare patches on your lawn unlike Bluegrass which forms sods that cover all bare parts left in your lawn when they spread. For this reason, when you choose Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue then you should consider regular overseeding to keep your lawn dense.

Water and fertilizer needs

If you are looking for low maintenance grass then Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue will do right by you. To stay healthy it requires you to water it about once per week and can grow comfortably in areas with very little water unlike Bluegrass which needs you to water it frequently through a week for it to thrive. This is because Tall Fescue has adaptation properties such as an extensive root system that taps water and keeps it surviving.

When it’s time to fertilize your lawn, Bluegrass needs a lot more nitrogen that would cost you about 1-2 kilos per 1000m2 of your lawn while Tall Fescue would need about a quarter of a kilo of fertilizer for the same size of your lawn.

Traffic tolerance and recovery rates

Foot traffic, vehicle traffic and playing can damage the grass in your lawn so you may need to pick out grass that has high tolerance and speedy recovery from wear to keep your lawn dense and even. For this reason, Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Bluegrass would be a great choice because they both have high tolerance to wear from traffic. However, if you intend to use your lawn for heavy traffic activities such as sports then Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue would be a better choice because it has higher traffic tolerance than Bluegrass. Also, it recovers faster from wear so your lawn is durable throughout.

Shade tolerance

The amount of sunlight that your lawn receives per day affects your choice of grass and its growth. Bluegrass needs about 8-10 hours of exposure to direct sunlight while Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue needs only 3-4 hours. So, if you are looking to establish your lawn in an environment that is characterized with a lot of shade from trees or anything around, then Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue would be a practical option.

Weed control

Taking care of your lawn with Bluegrass may be a handful because it is prone to infestation by diseases and weeds during the summer season which may need you to continuously water and fertilize it. Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue on the other hand, is more heat tolerant and this way it is able to resist invasion by weeds. All you need to maintain Tall Fescue is avoid overwatering it and keep off too much fertilizer to keep it healthy.


Depending on what you need to use your lawn for and the environmental conditions of your habitat, both Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Bluegrass will need to be maintained through regular watering and fertilizing. Another option would be mixing both grasses in such a way that Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue and Bluegrass in such a way that Tall Fescue’s proportion is higher.


About the Author

Steve has been gardening for over 20 years now. He enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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