Kentucky 31 vs Tall Fescue: What’s the Difference?

So you’re thinking of overhauling your lawn and want to know which type of grass is right for you. Kentucky 31 or tall fescue is a debate as old as bluegrass. Before you dive in and make a decision you’ll have to make for years to come, let’s break down the pros and cons of these two popular grass types. 

Kentucky Bluegrass vs. Tall Fescue: Which One is Best?

We get it; choosing a grass seed isn’t exactly exciting stuff. But your lawn is the first thing people see when they come to your home, so picking the right grass that will make your yard the envy of the neighborhood is worth weighing all the options. 

Do you want a lawn that stays green even in the dog days of summer or one that requires less mowing and maintenance? Read on to discover which factors matter most for your needs and climate. The grass is always greener on the other side, so choose wisely!

What is Kentucky 31 Bermuda Grass?

Kentucky 31 Bermuda grass is a popular warm-season grass used for lawns and pastures. Originally from Africa, this coarse-textured grass is drought-tolerant and wear-resistant.

If you’re looking for affordable grass that can handle heavy foot traffic and still look decent, Kentucky Bluegrass 31 may be for you. To keep green during the sweltering summer months;

  • This low-maintenance grass just requires 1-2 inches of water per week.
  • You only need to mow it every 5-7 days to keep it at about 2-3 inches tall because it grows quickly.

The downside is that Kentucky bluegrass 31 isn’t the softest or most attractive grass. Its wide blades can feel prickly under bare feet, and it has a blue-green hue that some find unappealing. It also requires more fertilizer and weed control to look its best.

If you want a more decorative lawn, consider turf-type tall fescue instead. Tall fescue varieties like Titan Rx or Houndog have finer, softer blades and a richer green color. They also have better disease resistance and shade tolerance. However, tall fescue lawns typically require more watering and mowing to maintain.

Choosing between tall fescue Kentucky 31 depends on how much effort you want to put into your lawn. For a low-maintenance option, Kentucky Bluegrass 31 can work great. The best option is turf-type tall fescue if you want a lawn that stands out more. 

What Is Tall Fescue Grass?

Tall fescue grass is a popular cool-season grass that can withstand heavy foot traffic and drought. Tall fescue can be your best option for a tough, low-maintenance lawn.

Tall fescue is a bunch-type grass that grows in clumps rather than spreading out. Deep roots help it withstand dry, hot weather without much watering or fertilizing. It stays green even in winter and springs back quickly in spring.

The downside is that tall fescue requires more mowing since it grows so vigorously.

It doesn’t seem to be the softest grass, however, so it might not be the greatest choice if you like to relax or play on your lawn. Tall fescue comes in a wide range of cultivars.

. Some popular options include:

  • Kentucky 31: A hardy, low-maintenance variety that does well in many climates. It has a coarse texture but is very durable.
  • Turf-type tall fescue: Finer, softer blades and denser growth than Kentucky Bluegrass 31. It requires more maintenance but produces a high-quality lawn.
  • Dwarf tall fescue: A compact variety that only grows 4 to 6 inches tall, requiring less mowing. It has good heat and drought tolerance.

Tall fescue grass may meet your needs if you want a beautiful lawn that can withstand heavy use with little fuss. Find out which varieties will grow in your location by speaking to your neighborhood garden and lawn care shop. You may quickly achieve a thick, hardy tall fescue lawn with the appropriate upkeep.

Growing Conditions for Kentucky Bluegrass vs. Tall Fescue

1) Climate Requirements

Kentucky 31 and tall fescue grasses have different climate needs. Kentucky 31 can tolerate a wider range of temperatures, from very cold to quite hot. It is well-suited for areas with cold winters, as low as -30°F. Tall fescue prefers more temperate weather but can still handle moderately cold temperatures, down to -10°F.

Both types of grass require moderate rainfall and humidity. Kentucky 31 needs at least 30 to 40 inches of rain per year to thrive, while tall fescue requires 35 to 45 inches annually. These grasses also appreciate humid conditions, with around 60 to 70 percent relative humidity. Avoid planting them in arid or semi-arid climates unless you intend to irrigate them regularly.

2) Sun Exposure

Kentucky 31 and tall fescue are full-sun grasses, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They will not grow well in shady areas or with limited sun exposure. If your yard has partly shady spots, these grasses may not fill in or spread into those areas. For the healthiest, most vibrant lawn, choose a spot with plenty of sun throughout the day.

3) Soil Requirements

In terms of soil, Kentucky 31 and tall fescue share similar needs. They prefer loamy, fertile, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7. Tall fescue can tolerate a slightly wider pH range.

Avoid heavy clay soils that drain poorly, as these can lead to disease and root rot issues. Before planting, test your soil to determine if any amendments are needed to adjust the pH or improve fertility. Adding compost or other organic matter will help create ideal soil conditions for establishing a new lawn.

With the proper climate, sunlight, and soil conditions, both Kentucky 31 and tall fescue can make great lawn grasses. But be sure to choose a type that is well-suited to your local environment for the best results.

Maintenance Requirements: Water, Fertilizer, and Mowing

When it comes to maintenance, Kentucky 31 and Tall Fescue have some similarities but also a few key differences you’ll want to keep in mind.

1) Watering

Kentucky 31 and tall fescue grasses require moderate water to stay green and actively growing. As a general rule of thumb, water each grass type with about 1 to 1 1⁄2 inches of water per week, split into 2-3 watering sessions. Be sure to water in the early morning to minimize disease and allow the grass blades to dry during the day. During hot, dry spells in the summer, you may need to increase watering to 2 inches per week.

2) Fertilizing

For the best results, fertilize both Kentucky 31 and tall fescue in the spring just as new growth starts, and again in the fall. Utilize a fertilizer with a balanced ratio of;

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Nitrogen

such as 10-10-10. To determine how much to apply based on the size of your lawn, follow the instructions on the product’s container. Fertilizing will provide nutrients to strengthen roots, stimulate new growth, and maintain a lush green color.

3) Mowing

Here is where the maintenance requirements differ significantly between the two grass types. Kentucky 31 should be mowed to a height of 2 to 3 inches, while tall fescue should be mowed to 3 to 4 inches for the best appearance. Mow the grass when it grows 1/3 taller than the recommended height.

Mowing too short can damage the grass plants, so be sure to sharpen your mower blade at least once a season and never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.

By properly watering, fertilizing, and mowing your Kentucky 31 or tall fescue lawn based on its specific needs, you’ll be rewarded with healthy, attractive grass that maintains its lushness even during the hottest summer months. Paying close attention to these key factors will help you decide which grass type best fits your lawn care priorities and maintenance schedule.

Which Grass Is Right for Your Lawn? Pros and Cons Comparison

If you’re trying to decide between Kentucky 31 and tall fescue grass for your lawn. Both grass types have pros and cons, so let’s compare them to determine which is the better choice for your needs.

1) Growth and Appearance

Kentucky 31 grass has a coarse, wide blade and tends to grow more aggressively, requiring frequent mowing and maintenance. Tall fescue has a finer, softer blade and slower growth, only needing to be mowed once a week during peak growing season.

2) Drought and Disease Resistance

If you live in an area with hot, dry summers, tall fescue is more drought-tolerant and resistant to disease. Kentucky 31 requires more water and care. Tall fescue also has better shade tolerance, while Kentucky 31 prefers full sun.

3) Cost and Availability

Kentucky 31 grass seed and sod tend to be more affordable and readily available. Tall fescue can be slightly more expensive, although the lower maintenance needs help offset costs over time.

4) Uses

Kentucky 31 is often used for lawns, parks, and golf courses. Tall fescue works well for residential and commercial lawns, athletic fields, and pastures.

Ultimately, you need to weigh the factors that matter most for your needs. If you want inexpensive, fast-growing grass and don’t mind frequent mowing and watering, Kentucky 31 may suit you well. If you prefer a lower-maintenance lawn that’s more drought and disease-resistant, tall fescue is probably your best bet. If taken care of properly, each variety of grass can produce a lush, green lawn. 


So there you have it: the pros and cons of  Tall Fescue Kentucky Bluegrass 31 to consider for your lawn. As you’ve seen, it ultimately comes down to your specific needs and climate. If low maintenance and drought resistance are priorities, tall fescue varieties. But if you want a lawn that can handle heavy foot traffic and resist disease, Kentucky 31 is probably the way to go.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either grass, so choose what will work for your lifestyle and enjoy a lush, green lawn all season long! Most importantly, you get outside and appreciate the bare patches of nature in your backyard.


For tall fescue, what pH is ideal?

Determine the soil’s need for lime and fertilizer before sowing. Although tall fescue can provide adequate yields on soils with low pH levels, the pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for best productivity.

Tall Fescue or Kentucky 31—which is preferable?

Although KY-31 is more heat- and drought-tolerant than many tall fescue cultivars, tall fescues typically tolerate heat better than other cool-season grasses.

What is Kentucky 31 covered in?

A common cold-season bunchgrass used in North American pastures and lawns is Kentucky 31 tall fescue. Compared to other grasses, tall fescues are more able to survive hot and dry weather.

Which tall fescue grass seed has the best heat tolerance?

Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Heat-Tolerant Blue Mix for Tall Fescue Lawns provides exceptional heat, drought, and disease tolerance. For strong roots and durability, the mixture combines Tall Fescue and Bluegrass seeds.

For more lawn care tips visit here and for more guides related to mowers visit Mowers Guide

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Urooj Ashfaq
By Urooj Ashfaq

Hey there! I'm Urooj Ashfaq, your friendly lawn care guru at Mowers Guide. With a passion for beautiful lawns, I bring years of experience and expertise to help you master the art of lawn mowing and tractor maintenance. At Mowers Guide, I provide easy-to-understand guides, unbiased reviews, and trustworthy information to ensure a top-notch user experience.

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