Turf Type Tall Fescue vs Kentucky Bluegrass

Turf Type Tall Fescue

If you have a lawn, and you’re at a point in which you have to choose which type of grass to seed it with, you have many options. There are plenty of different grasses that you could go for, after all.

However, it is important that you choose according to what is best for your lawn, taking into account factors such as where you live, the amount of maintenance, your needs, and your personal preferences. 

If you’re thinking about getting cool-season grass, the two most popular options are Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass. Both of these can make your lawn look amazing and beautiful, and they have plenty of similarities. However, those further up north tend to prefer the Kentucky Bluegrass, and those further down south tend to prefer the Turf Type Tall Fescue. 

In order to choose between one and the other, it is vital that you compare all of their main traits, and decide which one is the better one for your specific situation and preference. And to help you out with this task, we’re going to tell you all about how these two types of grass compare, with their main differences, and the different pros and cons that they come with.

If this sounds like something that could help you out, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get right into it! 

The Main Key Differences Between Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass

Throughout this article, we will go in-depth and talk about all of the main and most important differences between Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, so that they can be fully compared, and you can decide which one is better suited to your lawn. 

But before we get into detail, let’s start by showing you a quick summary of the main key differences between both types of grass turf, which are also the differences through which you can best tell them apart, to know which is which. 

Because while both types of grass are cool-season, and apt for being grown in a USDA zone 8 and above, they have their differences. 

Here are some of the main key differences between them: 

  • Turf Type Tall Fescue is less resistant to the cold compared to the Kentucky Bluegrass, which is why southerners tend to prefer the Tall Fescue, and northerners stick with the Kentucky Bluegrass. 
  • Turf Type Tall Fescue will germinate a lot faster than the Kentucky Bluegrass. This means that a lawn with the Turf Type Tall Fescue will grow a lot quicker than one with Kentucky Bluegrass. (Although, of course, this also depends on the conditions for optimal growth.) 
  • The Turf Type Tall Fescue has a deeper root system than the Kentucky Bluegrass. 
  • The Turf Type Tall Fescue is a bunch-forming grass, so this means that it doesn’t spread out, and doesn’t repair itself within the landscape. The Kentucky Bluegrass, on the other hand, is able to spread via Rhizomes and therefore will create a thicker and fuller turf for your lawn. 
  • The Turf Type Tall Fescue doesn’t need as much water, or fertilizer, compared to the Kentucky Bluegrass. Also, it is more resilient to heavy foot traffic. However, the Kentucky Bluegrass is very good at self-repairing whenever it suffers damage from heavy traffic and from bad conditions, so they both make up for it in their own way. 
  • The Turf Type Tall Fescue does not need as much sunlight as the Kentucky Bluegrass. The latter needs around 8 hours of daily direct sunlight, if you want it to thrive, but the Tall Fescue only needs around half of this amount. 
  • As a general rule, Kentucky Bluegrass will need dethatching around once a year, or every two years. Turf Type Tall Fescue, on the other hand, will benefit more from some overseeding every year or so. This is because they grow in different ways. 
  • Turf Type Tall Fescue thrives when planted during the spring and the fall seasons, at the peak of its growth periods. The Kentucky Bluegrass, on the other hand, is best planted early during the fall season, for the best possible results. 
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There are some other key differences, such as the appearance of both types of grass, which slightly differ, along with the texture and feel. But unless you’ve spent a lot of time looking at grass, you might not be able to tell them apart instantly just based on the appearance. Not to mention that the differences that we listed are far more important, because they’re to do with how the grass is going to work within your lawn, and what it requires from you. 

But basically, they’re different. And we’ll go into more detail on some of the main points of comparison if you keep on reading! 

Turf Type Tall Fescue vs Kentucky Bluegrass – A Comparison

Let’s move on to the part where we compare both Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass, on three main different things: the tolerance of their grass, the growth patterns, and the maintenance they require. 

Why these three things? Well, because these are the three most important things to take into account when you are picking the type of grass for your lawn, as they are the three things that are going to affect how the grass grows and looks, and how much you have to do for it to be okay.

It is important to know the tolerances of each grass, along with their growth patterns, and what kind of maintenance they require. And you can then determine whether their traits are compatible with your location and lifestyle and whether they are the grass for you, or not. 

So without further ado, let’s get right into comparing these three very important traits! 

Tolerances of the grass

The tolerance of a type of grass refers to the conditions, in the weather, and in the environment, that the grass can withstand, and thrive in. It is usually the first thing that people look at when choosing their type of grass, as it is vital to determine whether the grass is compatible with the climate in your location or not.

At the end of the day, the grass will thrive or whither depending on whether it can survive the weather conditions it is subjected to, so you absolutely have to pay attention to the tolerances! 

Both the Turf Type Tall Fescue and the Kentucky Bluegrass are cool-season grasses, which means that they are suited to locations with a cooler climate, and do not require as intense heat in order to thrive. This means that they are compatible in very similar locations. But as they have their differences, your specific lawn might be best for one or the other, so let’s go into a little more detail about both: 

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Better resistance for colder locations, and better suited for more northern regions
  • Struggles and fades away during the colder months 

Turf Type Tall Fescue

  • Not as resistant to the cold, but better at withstanding heat and drought. It is better suited for mother southern regions (while still being a cool-season grass)
  • The deeper root systems allow for a higher resistance for droughts and heat 

Basically, the Turf Type Tall Fescue is better for places that are northern, but that have long seasons of warmth or heat. And the Kentucky Bluegrass is for places with harsher and longer winters where it gets colder. 

An alternative to choosing one or the other would be to create a blend of both types of grass so that you have the best of both worlds! 

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Growth Patterns

The growth pattern of a grass refers to the way in which the grass grows and spreads within the lawn, and how it is essentially going to look when it is thriving. This is very important, because depending on the growth pattern, the grass will look one way or another, so it directly affects the appearance of your lawn, and therefore, your preferences. 

This is also one of the easiest traits to compare between the Turf Type Tall Fescue and the Kentucky Bluegrass, because both of these cool-season grasses have completely different growth patterns, causing them to look and behave in completely different ways. 

Let’s look at the growth patterns of one and the other so that you can better understand what we mean: 

Turf Type Tall Fescue

Turf Type Tall Fescue can be grown very easily from seeds, and it germinates very fast. In fact, it grows a lot quicker than Kentucky Bluegrass does. 

As a general rule, Turf Type Tall Fescue will develop a root system that is 2 to 3 feet deep, a lot deeper than other cool-season grasses, including the Kentucky Bluegrass. This deeper root system is what allows it to retain moisture a lot better, which in turn allows it to withstand and survive hotter conditions a lot better, as well as droughts.

The deeper root system is also a reason why the Tall Fescue is better for lawns with dense clay. 

Turf Type Tall Fescue is a bunch-forming grass. This means that it grows in clumps, spreading through tillers which are vertical shoots, growing from the base. This means that it has a very limited capability for spreading out, so it is more prone to growing in patches, rather than filling out the entire lawn evenly. 

This can be easily remedied through the practice of overseeding every once a year or so. 

That being said, this trait also makes this type of grass a lot easier to contain, as it is less likely to spread over to areas in which you do not want it to invade. 

But another downside of this limited spreading capability is that if the grass becomes damaged, it will not be as quick to fill in the patches and repair itself, it will need your help. 

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass grows pretty well from seeding and is easy enough to fill your lawn with. However, it germinates a lot slower than the Turf Type Tall Fescue, meaning it will take a lot longer to have a full lawn of grass. This is why it is not always the best for beginners, as it requires a lot more patience. 

The Kentucky Bluegrass has a far more shallow root system, compared to the Turf Type Tall Fescue. This makes it more vulnerable to heat and less capable of withstanding droughts. In fact, during the hotter seasons, Kentucky Bluegrass will often go dormant, so it will fade away and will stop looking as good. The only way to stop this is by watering it a lot more regularly to make up for the natural lack of moisture.

That being said, the Kentucky Bluegrass is able to withstand colder weather a lot better and is able to withstand harsh winters from regions further up north.  

Kentucky Bluegrass is a self-spreading and sod-forming grass. It spreads via rhizomes, and this allows it to have great self-repairing qualities. Basically, this grass will spread out evenly around the lawn, and will quickly fill in any dead or damaged patches, so that the entire spread of grass is thick and full. 

It is also worth saying that the Kentucky Bluegrass is known for being one of the most beautiful types of cool-season grasses. It has a deep emerald green color, with blue tints, and it has a medium to a fine texture that is soft to the touch (great for walking on it barefoot!) 

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We already covered a bit about maintenance when we went through the key differences between both types of grass. However, we will go through them again, so that it is clear. After all, the type of maintenance that a type of grass requires can be a decisive trait as to whether you choose it or not, depending on whether you want to do more or less work when it comes to your lawn. 

Here are the main differences in maintenance:

Turf Type Tall Fescue

  • It needs an average of 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. 
  • It requires less water and less fertilizer. 
  • It needs overseeding once a year or so. 
  • It is more tolerant and resistant, but less capable of self-repairing. 
  • Best planted during spring or fall, at the peak of its growth period. 

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • It needs an average of 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. 
  • It requires more water and more fertilizer. 
  • It needs dethatching once a year, or once every two years. 
  • It is less tolerant and resistant, but more capable of self-repairing. 
  • Best planted at the beginning of the fall season. 

Turf Type Tall Fescue vs Kentucky Bluegrass – The Verdict

Bluegrass Kentucky

Okay, so let’s get to the final verdict. Which type of grass is better, Turf Type Tall Fescue, or Kentucky Bluegrass? 

It should be kind of obvious by now that neither grass is better than the other, they are simply different, and better suited to different locations, weather conditions, and maintenance. 

So essentially, we can’t tell you which one to choose, because it completely depends on factors specific to you and your lawn. 

Here are some of the factors on which to base your choice of grass, between the Turf Type Tall Fescue and the Kentucky Bluegrass: 

Where You Live

Due to their specific traits and tolerances, both types of grass are better suited to specific locations. Although both are cool-season grasses that will be compatible in similar places, the Turf Type Tall Fescue is better for more southern regions (where there are longer warm seasons, and more heat), and the Kentucky Bluegrass is better for more northern regions (where there are colder and harsher winters). 

The Kind of Maintenance You Want to be Responsible for

Due to their growth patterns, both types of grass require different types and levels of maintenance. Although effort-wise, they will be similar, Kentucky Bluegrass requires more water, more sunlight, and bigger quantities of fertilizer. 

However, the Turf Type Tall Fescue, for example, is less capable of self-repairing, so you will need to pay a lot more attention to any damaged patches or problems that it might have. 

Your Preference on the Grass’ Appearance

Both types of grass look and feel different, and the one you pick, in this regard, depends entirely on your personal preference, as it is a subjective opinion. 

Kentucky Bluegrass is known as one of the most beautiful cool-season types of grass, with a vibrant emerald color that has blue undertones. It also has a more delicate texture, soft to the touch. 

The Turf Type Tall Fescue, on the other hand, has a darker green that is purer. It also has a coarser texture. 

Final Thoughts

Both Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass are cool-season grasses, compatible in similar locations. However, the way in which they grow, their tolerances, and their maintenance requirements, make them more suitable for specific regions and types of lawns. 

At the end of the day, you should choose the grass most compatible with your exact location, and your preference. Plus, you should also be taking into account the appearance of the grass, and the level of maintenance that you are willing to provide regularly.