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Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) belongs to the sweet grasses and is therefore often used as pasture grass. It is also often found in seed mixtures for meadows or lawns. Its advantages lie in its easy care, surefootedness and rapid growth. There are over 200 varieties on the market, most of which are only important in agriculture. You can read information about ryegrass and some selected varieties here.
Synonyms: Perennial Ryegrass, English Ryegrass, English Ryegrass, Perennial Lark, Spelled Husk, Perennial Loch
growth form: forms clumps
Blossom: inconspicuous, small spikelets
heyday: May-August, depending on the weather also October
Size: without pruning 20-60 cm in height
Use: Agriculture, playground or sports turf
Hardiness: grows persistently, can freeze back in winter
Perennial ryegrass likes nutrient-rich, heavy soil. It responds well to fertilization and grows very well with high nitrogen fertilization. It is also phosphate compatible. It has shallow roots, so the water supply must be ensured in dry summers, but otherwise the water requirement is not very high. Waterlogging on loamy soils can impair winter hardiness or damage the roots. In the shade it remains smaller, it is more suitable for sunny places.
use in the garden
Since ryegrass is very robust, it can be used well in lawns that are often walked on. It is cut compatible and is therefore even more resistant. In addition, a cut promotes branching and the turf becomes denser. However, it remains green when it is dry and hot, so it is also suitable for a location where not so much precipitation is to be expected. It is not always winter green, especially in harsh locations. It is therefore only suitable to a limited extent for lawns that should look attractive and well-groomed even in the cold season. If individual plants freeze to death in winter, gaps appear in the lawn, but these are quickly closed again as soon as the grass sprout in spring.
Notice: Perennial ryegrass can trigger allergies (hay fever). Flowering should then be avoided at all costs.
use in agriculture
- pasture grass
Like other grasses, perennial ryegrass needs light to germinate. Before sowing, the soil is well prepared:
- dig up area
- Pull weeds out of the ground
- Incorporate fertilizer
- Pick up stones and clods of earth or remove them with a rake
- smooth surface
Then the seed is spread thinly. It should be noted that it should be a seed mix that does not consist entirely of Lolium Perenne. Mixtures with other grasses are cheaper. This makes the subsequent care of the lawn easier, as the ryegrass tends to become matted due to its strong clump formation.
After sowing, the area is treated with a lawn roller so that the seed is well pressed. The area must then be watered. Germination can take several weeks, but the soil should not become too dry.
Notice: To ensure that the new lawn is laid successfully, it is best to start in spring when it is still wet in winter. This can prevent the seed from drying out.
The subsequent maintenance of perennial ryegrass does not require any more attention than with other lawn seeds. You should cut and fertilize it regularly. Water only if the drought persists. In order to increase resistance to cold, it should no longer be fertilized in autumn.
Since the ryegrass is very competitive, it can also assert itself well against weeds. However, it can also push back weaker grasses.
Turf is formed by root suckers, which form daughter plants. In addition, the plant spreads by self-seeding, as long as open-pollinated seeds are used and the grass is not trimmed.
diseases or pests
Specific pests play an insignificant role in English ryegrass. At best, the lawn can be infested by "pests" in general, such as earthworms, voles or moles.
Fungal diseases are possible diseases, for example the rust fungus, which causes spots on the leaves. It prefers to thrive in damp locations, so the lawn should be kept as dry as possible.
Since perennial ryegrass is of great economic importance for agriculture, it is grouped according to aspects that are important for cultivation. The main subdivision is made into early, middle early and late cultivars, whereby this refers to the earing, i.e. the formation of flowers.
Some cultivars of perennial ryegrass are marked as “suitable for bogs”. This means they tolerate both wet and cold better and are suited to sites that are damp or prone to frost.
They are mainly used in agriculture because they emerge and grow quickly and produce high yields. They are only used for a few years, i.e. less on permanent grassland. They can strongly displace other grasses, but do not grow as old as late cultivars. Early ryegrass varieties are cut 1 to 3 times a year.
- Artesia: good resistance to rust, persistent
- Giant: medium resistance, medium endurance
- Ivana: good for grassland mixes, good turf density but more prone to rust
This ryegrass flowers later and develops more slowly overall. However, this creates more leaf mass. These cultivars are resistant to browsing and regenerate quickly. Due to the high yield, medium-late ryegrass varieties are often used on permanent pastures.
- Barcampo: Suitable for bogs, less good scar formation, good resistance to rust
- Indicus: suitable for bogs, good scar formation and endurance, medium resistance
- Tribal: suitable for bogs, less pronounced grain density, good resistance
Characteristics of these cultivars are longevity and crush resistance. Therefore, they are particularly suitable for use as a lawn in the garden. The hoards stay rather low and form short spurs, creating a dense turf. However, growth is slower than in the early ryegrass varieties.
- Albion: good stamina and resistance, medium scar density
- Barpasto: suitable for moor, good resistance and scar density
- Bokser: good for sports turf, medium to dark green, fine, narrow leaves
- Lorraine: resilient, fast regeneration, tolerates pruning
- Pronto: tolerant of cold and salt in the soil, dark green leaves
Perennial ryegrass can interbreed with Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), another grass species. If such varieties are used, it must be noted that they have different, albeit similar, properties to pure cultivars. They grow taller than perennial ryegrass, but are not as long-lived.
Another crossing can be observed at the natural site. Perennial ryegrass can form hybrids with meadow fescue. The bastard from this crossing is called common fescue-lark. Or a neologism from fescue and ryegrass is used: Schweidel.