Rye Grasses

What are rye grasses?

There are two types of Rye Grass:

  • Lolium Multiflorum – the annual Rye Grass
  • Lolium Perenne – the perennial Rye Grass.

These are sturdy, environmentally-adapting grasses that can withstand many different climates and conditions and have been common in the United Kingdom for almost four hundred years. Of course this is an estimation given when records on such grasses were first kept.

Both of these types of Rye Grass are very popular and can be used in different surroundings to fulfil different purposes.

Lolium multiflorum (Annual Rye Grass)

A so-called ‘cool season’ grass, the Lolium multiflorum – or Annual Rye Grass – is generally used as a temporary grass when overseeding existing grasses. When we say overseeding we refer to the process of covering over patches of grass that have been worn away either by heavy animal or human traffic or general weather wear.

Lolium perenne (Perennial Rye Grass)

A tufted grass with a fibrous root Lolium perenne is considered to be the native ryegrass of the United Kingdom. This particular ryegrass has been in use and been cultivated since the 17th century and this is believed to be the reason for its wide distribution throughout the British Isles. It can withstand submersion in seawater and also withstand the force of being walked upon – or trampled under foot by livestock – making it a sturdy and useful grass for grazing.


As already mentioned these ryegrasses as considered to be ‘cool season’ grasses, meaning that they last well in climates such as ours in the United Kingdom where our seasons are now more prone to longer periods of rain or cold weather.

In autumn these grasses go through what can be best described as accelerated periods of growth which are eventually cut short by the onslaught of frosts and then winter in its fullest form.


When using these ryegrasses in pastures it is important to remember that cutting them back reduces their chances of regeneration – or regrowth – and it then becomes necessary to re-sow. If this happens then re-sowing or ‘sward renewal’ is necessary to ensure a fresh growth of grass.

Growing ryegrasses

You can grow ryegrasses from seed but you will find also that ryegrass has a tendency to appear in other types of grasses of its own accord. This is because the grass pollinates through the air and seeds are carried in the wind. They are also eaten by earthworms that can pass them whole in their worm casts, where they can then sink into soil in other areas and begin to grow.

Unwanted ryegrass

Ryegrass can be difficult to get rid of if it is mixed in with other types of grass. It can be gotten rid of but the process can take time and it is worth noting that it is not always successful given the sturdiness of the grass itself.

One of the best ways to kill off ryegrass if it finds its way into grasses on lawns etc is to steam it. Steaming the grass at 75oC (167oC Fahrenheit).

These grasses have many different applications and it is best to check with your local gardening centre before embarking on the use of such a grass. You should also find it useful to know that such grasses have viable seeds for seven years so it is not necessary to plant all of your seeds in one sowing.

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