Ryegrass: The Grass of Choice at Wimbledon

RyegrassRyegrass (perennial or annual) is a cool season grass used throughout Europe, Asia and North America in the following ways:

  • In the Wimbledon Championships Tennis Tournament, the grounds are 100% perennial ryegrass.
  • The southern US states use ryegrass as a temporary winter turf on sports fields, golf courses and residential lawns. It survives cooler temperatures than bermuda grass and can withstand heavy traffic making it the perfect turf for the southern winter.
  • In transitional and some northern zone US states, ryegrass is used as a permanent turfgrass for sports fields and golf courses. And on lawns in combination with kentucky bluegrass.

People love the ryegrass type of grass because of its fine but dense turf and its dark color.

Ryegrass Features

Growing season. Ryegrass is a cool season grass that establishes quickly but spreads slowly. Grows in fall and winter in the southern US and in spring and summer in the northeastern, northwestern states.

Shade tolerance. Low tolerance of shade in northeastern and northwestern states. Tolerant of shade in south because acts as shield from midday sun.

Sun requirement. Requires lots of sun.

Drought tolerance. Not drought tolerant. One of the first of all the types of grass to show drought stress.

Foot traffic tolerance. Very resilient to heavy traffic. Quickly self repairs damaged areas.

Maintenance needs. Has been said that ryegrass is the highest maintenance of all grasses used in the southern states. Requires irrigation and watering. Requires fertilizer and pest management. Requires frequent mowing. Requires thatching.

Disease tolerance. Susceptible to pests and disease. Fungicides required.

Ryegrass Lawn Mowing

Mowing height. Ryegrass, as a general rule, should be mowed more frequently the shorter you want to keep it. This is because it is recommended that you only take off 1/3 the grass leaf with each mow. Any lawn or turf kept above an inch should be mowed in the spring twice a week. Daily mowing is required for lawns shorter than an inch.

Recommended lawn mower. Ryegrass is a fine but dense turf and requires a mower with adjustable mowing heights. One of the best mowers is definitely recommended.

Sources and Further Reading

1. Wimbledon grounds grass type information was sourced from the official Wimbledon website page here: Grass Courts.

2. This ryegrass publication by Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist, at the Aggie Horticulture Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service website was used to research this article.

3. This comparison table at the University of California Agriculture Department website was used for quick reference of ryegrass characteristics.

About your guide: Jamey Kramar is a certified Lawn Care Manager (NALP) and a Mechanical Engineer by trade. He has been writing about outdoor power equipment for 13 years and has been quoted in NYTimes, Popular Mechanics, HowStuffWorks, iFixit, Realtor.com, and more. He spends his spare time obsessing over his 1/4 acre lawn.