What is Ryegrass?

K. Gierok

Ryegrass is a type of plant that is commonly used in yards, golf courses, and other playing fields. While there are numerous types of this plant, the most common include Italian and perennial ryegrass. In order to achieve optimal results with this grass, it should be planted in areas that provide plenty of moisture, along with a relatively cool climate. Though this plant is considered to be generally quite tough, it is susceptible to certain infestations of insects. With proper care, these infestations can be easily managed.

Ryegrass is commonly used on golf courses.
Ryegrass is commonly used on golf courses.

Though there are approximately ten difference species of rye grass known, the two most common varieties are Italian and perennial ryegrass. While the latter comes back year after year, the former is an annual plant, which means it only lasts for one growing season. In some cases, however, it may last for two or even more years.

Ryegrass is commonly used for soccer pitches.
Ryegrass is commonly used for soccer pitches.

Ryegrass usually features a number of leaf blades which are typically narrow and flat. While perennial ryegrass features, lush, finely textured grass, the Italian alternative is substantially coarser. All varieties feature yellow flowers, though the conspicuousness of these flowers varies dramatically depending on the particular variety of plant.

Besides being used for covering lawns, it also makes a popular choice for golf courses, soccer fields, and other similar areas. While perennial ryegrass can do fine when planted on its own, Italian ryegrass is more often planted with other plants in order to create a softer, more manicured surface. In some cases, this plant is used for animal grazing, as it grows at a relatively fast rate and can be digested with ease by most grazing animals.

For best results, this grass should be planted in an area that boasts moist, non-alkaline soil. The soil should drain relatively well, and should be exposed to at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. When planted in cool climates, it thrives under direct sun exposure. In contrast, that planted in warmer areas requires shade and extra water in order to survive.

Though this plant is generally considered to be a relatively hardy plant, it is prone to damage by certain pests. Luckily, cutworms and webworms, which are the major ryegrass predators, can be easily managed through regular yard maintenance. Those who have an especially difficult time controlling a cutworm or webworm problem should consult with a local botanist in order to gain more information.

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