Rye Grass vs Fescue MMA Style. Who Will Win?

Last month I told the great success story of how we helped turn Michelle’s yard from being an HOA eye sore to becoming an example for the neighbors to follow. Michell is in a long line of Fescue Success stories that we have had.

women mma fighters

This month I want to turn your attention to Rye Grass.

Many homeowners want the green look of grass all year long. This is understandable to want a nice green lawn in the dead of winter when everything else is brown.

There are some things you should consider before making the choice to over seed your lawn with Rye Grass.

Last fall Mike, another one of our great customers, had Rye grass installed across his newly installed sod. During the winter months the yard was lush, thick and green.

He was the envy of his neighbors until the warmer months hit. When his Bermuda grass came off out dormancy it struggled to have a good color and green up quickly. Mike called in very concerned about what he was seeing in his lawn.

“Matt, I just don’t understand why my yard has not greened up?” Said Mike back in the Spring of 2019. Please read the following article that was inspired by that conversation.

Rye Grass tip


In the food chain that exist in your micro ecosystem of your lawn you find competing organism. This does not mean you are about to witness a MMA smack down of organisms in the lawn.

“In this corner we have a 50-year-old Oak Tree, weighing in at 1,700 lbs. vs Bermuda Sod weighing in at 1,500 lbs!”

No not that kind of completion, although it would be interesting it is not what competition means in your landscaping.

Competition is organisms competing for the same resources. This means that when you install Rye Grass you are setting up competition for these two organisms. Rye Grass and your existing turf grass will be competing for the same resources.

They are competing for the same sunlight, water and nutrients. The plant that is in photosynthesis will win the war. That means during the winter the Rye grass will out compete the dormant turf and rob it of water and nutrients.

During the spring when the turf grass starts to wake up from dormancy it will have less to nutrients to pull from. This will cause the grass to be slower to green up in the spring.

MMA fighters facing off

Erosion Control

Rye grass is one of the simplest ways to control erosion during the cool and wet season of North Texas. It is great to put down where bare soil conditions exist.

Evaporation rates, and weeds are rampant in bare soil. The roots of the Rye help hold the bare soil during the winter months. Typically, most of our rainfall and erosion problems occur between October and May.


Rye grass will require more work! Rye grass is a fast performer on the cool season. It will require six additional mowings to keep it looking managed.

Below is a good comparison between when to use Rye and when to use Fescue.

Rye Requirements

WhenTiming is EVERYTHING. October-February is the ideal time to install Rye.
LightFull sun is required. This grass will grow in the fall, winter, and spring in sunlight. It will not make it though the Summer heat and will die off.
Soil PrepVery little soil prep is need. This grass seed has a very high Germination rate. The main concern is making sure the yard is free of leaf litter to ensure good contact with the soil.
WaterThe water requirements for Rye are similar to St. Augustine grass.

Fescue Requirements

WhenTiming is EVERYTHING. October is the ideal month for Fescue. We have had success, installing it as late as November.
LightShade is required. This grass will grow in the fall, winter, and spring in sunlight. It will not make it through the North Texas heat if it is in the sun.
Soil PrepVery little soil prep is need. This grass seed has a very high Germination rate. The main concern is making sure the yard is free of leaf litter to ensure good contact with the soil.
WaterThe water requirements for Fescue are similar to St. Augustine grass. We have found that it blends in very nicely with St. Augustine Yards.

Both Grasses Are Installed Like the Parable of the Sower

Many of you have heard the story of the farmer who was sowing seeds. Some of the seeds fell on hard rocky ground and could not get established, because rodents and birds ate it up.

Other seeds landed in poor soil that would only support a shallow root system, and I could not hold up to the brutality of the Sun. While other seed fell on fertile ground and took root immediately and grew successfully. Installing Fescue is exactly this story. It is not an “instant” lawn.

We recommend that you repeat the process every year for three years for a thick full lawn. The photo above is Michelle’s yard 10 months after the initial installation of Fescue.

Fescue installation


Weigh your options carefully when considering if you should over seed your yard with Rye Grass. We find that for most of our customers it is not worth the delayed spring start of the existing turf grasses.

We do find it to be one of the best erosion controls that you can employ if you have an area of exposed soil that is in full sun. Fescue is the number one go to grass for difficult shade areas. It will help you have a fuller looking lawn.

It’s cheap and has a lot of “bang for the buck”. Give us a call if you have an area you would like us to come look at and we can come up with a plan to turn your yard around. Rye grass is my number one choice of grass to help hold the soil during the cooler months to help recovery after construction.

Rye grass as winter lawn replacement robs your turf of valuable nutrients that will set back your existing turf lawn in the early spring and cause it to be a few weeks behind in color and growth.

Once again, if you are not sure about what would be best for your lawn, please contact us and we can send an expert to look and advise you on the best course of action to take.

For More Information About Lawn Treatment, Contact Purple Care, The Fort Worth Landscaping Professionals, At (817) 369-3138.