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What is Rye Grass Seed?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter

Rye grass is a type of bunch grass, a grass that grows in tufts rather than in a smooth mat. Rye grass seed is often mixed with other varieties of grass seed to add durability and late season green to a lawn. Rye grass is available as either an annual or a perennial seed, and both varieties are cool season grasses.

Rye grass seed germinates quickly, typically in less than two weeks. This quality makes it an excellent choice for areas of recent construction. By planting the seed over bare soil, the area is soon green, and soil erosion is kept to a minimum.

Some varieties of rye grass can be used in pastures.
Some varieties of rye grass can be used in pastures.

This seed's quick growing ability also makes it a popular choice for overseeding mixtures. Even the most well established lawn may developed thinning patches. This is a normal part of the growth cycles of grasses. Combining rye grass seed with other, warm season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, can greatly revitalize a lawn.

Another benefit of using rye grass in a seed mixture is that it is a cool season grass. This means that when the other lawn grasses go dormant in the early fall, rye grass will be ready to grow. Rye grass typically goes dormant once the temperatures climb above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). A lawn that is made up only of warm season grasses will turn brown in the fall, while a lawn with a mixture of warm and cool season grasses will remain green throughout the year.

Annual rye grass, like any other annual seed, will complete its life cycle in one year. It is often used by contractors to provide quick cover after earth moving work. This will prevent soil erosion while the plants and foliage that are intended to grow in the area become established.

Most home lawn owners find perennial rye grass seed more useful. Perennial rye grass returns year after year. It is tough, and withstands heavy foot traffic. It is also a very hardy grass, and is not prone to attacks from disease or insects. Rye grass is easy to grow and performs well in most soil types. Its bright green color is a wonderful sight in late fall, when others' lawns have faded to brown and yellow.

When planting rye grass, plan to use at least five pounds (2.26 kg) of annual rye grass seed for every 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) planted. Ten pounds (4.53 kgs) per thousand will give even better coverage. Less perennial rye seed is required, five pounds (2.26 kgs) or less per 1,000 square feet (93 sq m) provides adequate coverage. While seeding can be completed at any time, for best results seed in the early fall. This will give the grass time to become established before the arrival of harsh winter weather.

Discussion Comments


@Kaifish - We mixed our rye grass with bermuda grass. This has given us a good balance of green grass from early spring to late fall.

The grass is now very thick and mowing does take longer though!


Rye grass definitely improved our lawn last fall! I wish I had known it goes dormant at 90 degrees though. It has been unusually hot here and my lawn is looking a little brown.


I live in a cool climate with three big dogs! I hope that rye grass is the solution to my patchy lawn. I am excited to try this seed out as soon as possible.

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    • Some varieties of rye grass can be used in pastures.
      By: Kseniya Abramova
      Some varieties of rye grass can be used in pastures.