Ryegrass or Weed: Tips for Planting and Outdoor Care

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Ryegrass or Weed: Tips for Planting and Outdoor Care
Ryegrass or Weed: Tips for Planting and Outdoor Care

Description of the ryegrass plant, advice on planting and caring for a chaff lawn, how to reproduce, possible difficulties in growing, interesting notes, species and varieties.

Ryegrass is also found under the name Lolium. According to the botanical classification, this representative of the flora belongs to the Gramineae family, or as it is also called Poaceae. Basically, all of them are meadow plants or are field weeds, can be found along highways or growing on embankments near railways. It is customary to use some varieties in the genus as forage grasses or in mixtures for growing lawns.

Although, as introduced plants, chaff can be found all over the world, excluding only territories with a tropical climate, the native range of representatives of the genus falls on the lands of Europe and the North American continent, the South Siberian regions and the Himalayas, and they are also not uncommon in Western and Central Asia.

Family name Cereals or Bluegrass
Growth time Annual or perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Seed or some types of dividing the bush
Open ground transplant terms When the temperature is in the range of -4 frost to +2 heat - early spring
Agrotechnics of planting 12-14 kg of seeds are used per hectare of pure culture, in grass mixtures for the same area 8-10 kg
Priming Nutritious and well-drained, loam
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral), only not sour (not less than 6, 5)
Illumination level Sunlit location or light shading
Humidity level Avoid waterlogging and drying out of the soil
Special care rules Regular feeding and moderate moisture
Height options 15-50 cm, but it happens that 0.7 m
Flowering period June-September
Type of inflorescences or flowers Spike-shaped inflorescence of smaller spikelets
Color of flowers Pale greenish
Fruit type Dry single-seeded weevil
Fruit color Yellowish brown
The timing of fruit ripening July-October
Decorative period Spring-autumn
Application in landscape design For the formation of lawns, landscaping of sports grounds and recreation areas
USDA zone 4–10

Spit owes its scientific name to a word that has ancient Roman roots "lolium". This is how the Roman poet Publius Virgil Maron (70 BC - 19 BC) called the evil weeds. In Russian, the plant has the same roots from the meaning "weed", coming from Church Slavonic and Old Russian, since the term "polovel" was present there, which has the same definition. However, in many languages this representative of the flora is called "rye grass" or "Ryegrass" (in English) or "Rygresi" (in Icelandic), which we have transformed into Ryegrass or Rygrass.

The plant is a semi-upper grass, mainly growing in pastures and forming a loose bush. During the first year of the growing season, after sowing the seeds, a thick and effective lawn can be formed. The cereal is characterized by a powerful fibrous root system, which has a strong branching, therefore it is able to quickly penetrate into the soil layers and contributes to the formation of dense sod. The ryegrass stems grow upright or have a geniculate ascending outline. Their height ranges from 15 cm to half a meter, but there are species that reach 0.7 m in height.

Shoots are elastic. A large number of leaf plates are formed in their lower part. A lot of shoots with abundant foliage are formed, and most of the foliage is located at a height of 10–18 cm from the soil surface on vegetative stems. It is this aspect that explains why reegrass is perfect for creating a lawn on a personal plot.

The color of the leaf plates of the chaff foliage is of a dark green hue, their surface is shiny. The length of the leaf is 8–17 cm and the width is about 1–5 mm. The outlines of the foliage are linear. This cereal blooms in June and after a month you can get seed for a new sowing. The inflorescences have a spike-like shape, composed in turn also by smaller spikelets. In this case, the total length of the inflorescence is 15 cm, and each spikelet can grow up to 8-16 mm in length and contains 3-20 flowers. During the flowering period, the spikelets are densely covered with pollen, which is transferred by the wind from one inflorescence to another.


Chaff pollen can cause seasonal allergies, this must be taken into account when forming a lawn if there are people in the house susceptible to hay fever (allergies).

Like all representatives of the cereal family, the fruits of the chaff are in the form of caryopses - a dry single-seeded fruit. The caryopses are usually spliced with the integumentary scales. Achenes tend to be carried both by water and by wind. The color of the caryopses is yellowish brown.

The main thing is that after the sowing has been carried out in just 1–1, 5 months, the plants will form a dense lawn, which also perfectly recovers after mowing. The plant is also distinguished by excellent resistance to trampling, and even when autumn comes, reegrass is just as green under the snow cover. Such a lawn will remain spectacular for a five-year period.

Tips for planting and caring for ryegrass lawn

Ryegrass grows
Ryegrass grows
  1. Landing place ryegrass lawn should be located in a sunny location or in moderate shade. It is important that the location is not in a lowland, where moisture from melting snow or prolonged precipitation can accumulate, since the plant does not tolerate both strong waterlogging and drying of the soil. Also, groundwater should not be nearby. You should not arrange such a lawn in a place where there is a slope of more than 30 degrees, since the soil will strictly slide, which will negatively affect the appearance and growth of roots and stems.
  2. Where to get seeds for sowing chaff. Such mixtures for lawns can be purchased in specialized stores. However, when a ryegrass lawn was already grown in the garden, you can get the seed yourself. To do this, when mowing is carried out, you need to leave a small area with intact stems and inflorescences on them. If the spikelets turn yellow, that is, they ripen, then they are cut off and the seeds are removed from there. It should be remembered that by purchasing grass mixtures for sowing, a more spectacular lawn will be obtained, however, some plants in them will require more care than clean plantings from chaff.
  3. Soil for planting ryegrass should be loose and nutritious. Any garden soil can be suitable here, since the plant is not demanding on the choice of substrate. However, as practice shows, on acidic soil, the pH of which is less than 6.5, the growth of chaff will be difficult. Loams and fertile compounds are suitable. After winter, soil cultivation is carried out as soon as possible, that is, as soon as the snow mass melts. Preparation of the site is also needed: removal of weeds and large stones, the substrate is dug up so that it has the opportunity to settle before sowing. Before sowing, it is recommended to additionally compact the soil and level its surface with a rake.
  4. Sowing ryegrass carried out in early spring, since during this period the soil remains not too dry or excessively waterlogged. If there is a possibility of watering during the summer, then sowing can be carried out during this period. The deepening should not be more than 2–3 cm.
  5. Watering when growing chaff, this is an aspect that should be given close attention. It is important that the soil moisture is regular, since drought, and even more waterlogging, will negatively affect the appearance and growth of this representative of cereals. In this case, most often damage to the root system occurs, which cannot be restored. Abundant watering of the substrate is necessary before sowing the seeds. Moistening of the substrate should be moderate so that the seeds of perennial chaff are not "flooded" with excess moisture.
  6. Fertilizers for growing chaff. Before sowing, fertilizers containing potassium and phosphorus are needed for plowing into the ground. With the arrival of March, nitrogen preparations are introduced for the first sowing and fertilization is continued once a month with the same preparations to build up green mass. Urea, for example, can act as nitrogen fertilizers. Subfrontal preparations are Agrecol or Hydro Mousse.
  7. A haircut when caring for ryegrass, it should be carried out frequently to keep the lawn in good condition. At the same time, it can be noted that many species have a high growth rate of stems, and will again cover the selected areas of the garden.
  8. Wintering when growing a lawn from ryegrass, it is not a problem if during this period the snow cover is sufficient and there are no severe frosts. Otherwise, the plant may be exposed to freezing. When there is little snow in such an area, then it must be thrown from other parts of the garden. However, with a snowless winter, there is still a chance that bald spots will appear on the lawn in the spring. In order to restore such a grass cover, it is recommended to fill it with new seed with the arrival of March. The optimal conditions for growing chaff coverings is a temperate climate, when frosts do not exceed -18 degrees.
  9. Special care tips. The plant is characterized by the ability to cope well with compacted soil and trampling. The root system tends to recover very quickly after any mechanical damage. It does not tolerate ryegrass when late spring frosts occur or early frosts come. When the winter period did not bring a large amount of snow cover, then the planting of the chaff has a peculiarity of freezing and then the lawn will turn out to be covered with ugly bald patches. On average, in one place, such plantings are able to grow without loss of decorative qualities for five years. To keep the lawn in good condition, it is recommended to mow when the chaff is just beginning to bloom (early June). This is especially true if the greens are supposed to be fed to pets, and the stalks quickly become coarse and then the livestock does not eat them well.
  10. The use of ryegrass in landscape design. It is clear that such grass will be an excellent planting for a lawn, and with its help you can plant greenery on sports grounds, park or garden recreation areas. But if there is a desire to get a lawn not only from the chaff, then its seeds are introduced into the mixture, along with fescue and bluegrass. Also good neighbors will be alfalfa, pink clover or comb. They will be a great addition to this grass cover.

Read more about growing Liriope.

How to breed ryegrass?

Ryegrass in the ground
Ryegrass in the ground

Usually the chaff propagation is carried out with the help of seeds. If the sowing is clean, then it is recommended to use 12-14 kg per hectare. With a herbal mixture, 8-10 kg of reygrass seeds should be taken on the same area. In an average climate, when there are no problems with humidity and dry weather, the best temperatures for germination of crops are indicators in the range from -4 degrees of frost to +2 degrees of heat. Compliance with these rules is necessary so that crops can be regularly moistened.

Seeds of perennial ryegrass are sealed to a depth of no more than 2-3 cm. Since the plant is a mesophyte (that is, it does not tolerate an excess of moisture), it is necessary to carefully monitor the condition of the soil during germination, without bringing it to acidification or strong drying.

Such a species as Bulbous ryegrass (Arrhenatherum bulbosum) can be propagated exclusively by dividing an overgrown bush. Decorative forms of the chaff are also subject to propagation. With the help of a sharpened garden tool, part of the sod is cut off and planted in a new place. After that, abundant watering is carried out.

Read also how to breed hedgehogs in the garden

Potential Difficulties When Growing Chaff Lawn

Green ryegrass
Green ryegrass

This herbaceous representative of the flora is highly resistant to various diseases and pests, but it happens that some of the species (especially Bulbous ryegrass - Arrhenatherum bulbosum "variegatum") can fall prey to fungal diseases such as rust. This infection affects all grain crops, while all parts of the plant that are above the soil surface fall under the "blow": foliage, leaf sheaths, stem and inflorescences-ears, scales and awns, and occasionally even grains.

To determine the presence of a fungal disease on examination, you can pay attention to the formation of pads, characterized by a shade that ranges from black to reddish brick. The color of the formations will depend on the type of rust and the degree of damage to the ryegrass. The causative agent of rust is the fungus Uredinales. It is activated at temperatures ranging from 18-19 degrees and constant humidity.

For preventive measures against this disease, it is recommended to perform the following actions:

  • maintain crop rotation;
  • weed the lawn from intermediate plants that contribute to the spread of the fungus;
  • sowing at the optimal time;
  • apply fertilizers;
  • to carry out pre-sowing treatment of seeds (warming up in the sun and air-heat warming up);
  • use resistant varieties.

In case of detection of a disease, it is recommended to treat the lawn with such fungicidal preparations as Benorad (treating and protecting agent), Bunker (seed dressing agent), Vial TrustT (complex fungicidal dressing agent with the addition of anti-stress components).

Read also about the difficulties in growing a haretail in the garden

Interesting notes about ryegrass

The chaff grows
The chaff grows

Many types of chaff are used not only as lawn grass, but also have applications in agriculture. The greatest vegetative activity occurs in mid-spring (April). Already in May, such a lawn can be used as a pasture paddock. Reygrass greens are very popular with domestic animals such as sheep, horses and other cattle. From one hectare you can get up to 400 quintals of grass or 90-100 quintals of hay when mowing. Also, a positive effect of the chaff on the structure of the soil is noted, its fertile characteristics increase, and the risk of erosion is also reduced.

But not all types of ryegrass are safe when grown for humans, the danger is carried by such a species as the intoxicating chaff (Lolium temulentum). Especially if such a herb gets into flour. It turns out to be fatal when 5 parts of chaff flour are mixed with one part of ordinary flour from wheat or rye, or only 20-30 seeds will be present in the total flour. In this case, you will get the so-called "drunk bread". Earlier in the USSR, such problems did not arise due to strict control by various methods (grains were sorted by weight and shape, using winnowers, sieves and triers) of grown seeds, but today, since cereals come from different countries, responsibility is usually imposed on a supplier who may not be too conscientious.

The first symptoms of poisoning with this plant are the appearance of clouding of consciousness, lethargy and drowsiness (that is, the human nervous system is damaged). In the future, symptoms of heart failure appear, breathing quickens and vision decreases. During pregnancy, animals always have a miscarriage, but this is also possible in women.

However, despite the mortal danger posed by the plant, it was used for homeopathic purposes for treatment. With the help of such drugs, it was possible to eliminate headache, manifestations of sciatica (pain in the lumbar spine), paralysis or prostration.

Types and varieties of ryegrass

In the photo, a perennial spit
In the photo, a perennial spit

Perennial chaff (Lolium perenne)

also has synonymous names English ryegrass or Pasture ryegrass … Herbaceous annual or perennial that grows throughout European territory (excluding the Arctic), on the North American continent and in Asia Minor, reaching the Himalayas, in the southern Siberian lands. It grows both in meadows and in the forest zone in clearings, along roads and in settlements. Height can reach 15–70 cm. The root system is fibrous, characterized by powerful outlines.

Unlike other species, shoots are divided into vegetative and generative ones. The surface of the stems is smooth. The leaves are glabrous and smooth, their width reaches 4 mm. The upper side of the leaf plate has a dull bluish-greenish hue, the opposite is glossy, painted in a light green tint. The sheath is flattened and reddish. The membranous outgrowth (uvula) is short.

At the top of the shoots during flowering, an inflorescence is formed in the form of a complex spike. Its length is 8–15 cm, its axis is smooth. On the axis are the spikelets that make up the inflorescence, reaching 7–15 mm in length, with 4–10 flowers. When flowering, pollen appears on the inflorescences, which can provoke allergies. The flowering process occurs from June to September, the fruits begin to ripen after a month. In general, fruiting is extended from July to October. The fruit is a weevil.

Among the varieties that are successful for landscaping recreation areas or decorating lawns, one can single out those derived by the efforts of our breeders:

  • Leningradsky, with a light green color of shoots and is recommended for cultivation in the north-western regions.
  • Phoenix can be grown in the north and northwest of Russia, shoots grow creeping.
  • Cinderella it is highly resistant to frost and not capricious in cultivation. It has high shoots, which recover for a long time after mowing.
  • Voronezh characterized by high reproductive rates.
In the photo, ryegrass is high
In the photo, ryegrass is high

Tall ryegrass (Arrhenatherum elatius)

also referred to as French ryegrass … It has a natural distribution in the north of the African continent and in Eurasia, in other regions it is an introduced plant. It happens that it is mistakenly confused with the Reed Fescue (Festuca arundinacea). A perennial that tends to grow in thickened tussocks, which are formed by means of tall shoots. The height of the latter can reach 1 m. The surface of the stems is smooth; flat leaf plates, characterized by a short ciliate tongue, grow on them. The leaf edge is linear, sharp roughness is present.

When flowering, a compressed panicle inflorescence is formed at the top of the stem, divided into sharply rough branches. The size of spikelets in it is small, there is a slight compression. At the bottom of the spikelet, a male flower usually appears, at the top, the flowers are bisexual. Fruit - the caryopsis has an oblong shape, the groove is absent.

There is a form Variegatum characterized by undersized stem parameters, only 20-30 cm. The leaf plates have a silvery-whitish variegated color.

In the photo, a multiflorous spat
In the photo, a multiflorous spat

Multiflorous chaff (Lolium multiflorum)

known by names such as Italian ryegrass or Multi-cut ryegrass … It grows naturally in the central and southern regions of Europe, found in northwest Africa and southeast Asia. It is widespread on lands with a temperate climate, often acting as a weed. May have either a one-year or two-year life cycle. Stems grow both singly and can gather in dense tufts. The height of the stems varies within 20–65 cm. At the base, the shoots can be divided, characterized by the presence of 2–5 nodes. Under the inflorescence, the stem has a rough surface.

The leaf blade reaches 6–25 cm in length with a width of about 1 cm. The outlines of the leaves are linear, the surface is bare, folded in the bud. The color on the top is slightly lighter than on the back. Narrowed ears grow at the base of the leaf. The tongue reaches 2 mm in length, membranous with a fringed edge.

The inflorescence is spicate, represented by a complex shape. Its length varies between 10-30 cm. It can have a straight or drooping appearance. Flatness is present and the axis is rough. The spikelet length does not exceed 8–25 mm. They are located sedentary, in the next sequence on the spine. Each spikelet can be composed of 5-15 flowers. Usually the caryopses are covered with flowering scales, which gradually harden.

In the photo Bulbous ryegrass
In the photo Bulbous ryegrass

Bulbous ryegrass (Arrhenatherum bulbosum)

may occur under the name Bulbous ryegrass or Variegated sedge … It is represented by a perennial plant, the stems of which reach a height of 0.3 m. The root system is located shallow in the ground. The species is named due to the fact that at the very surface of the soil on the rhizomes, the formation of specific thickenings - corms - occurs. The leaf plates are green, with longitudinal stripes on them. The leaves have narrowed outlines. Flowering occurs in the period June-July. By the middle of the summer period, the decorativeness of plants is lost.

The variety is of interest Variegatum (Variegatum), whose stems are stretched to a height of half a meter. The outlines of the leaves are linear, their color is green, and along the edge of the foliage is shaded with a whitish color scheme.

In the photo, the intoxicating spit
In the photo, the intoxicating spit

Intoxicating Spit (Lolium temulentum)

can be represented by both an annual and a perennial crop (3-4 years old). The stem is simple, without members. Foliage has a bright green or bluish-green tint. The inflorescences-ears growing on the tops of the shoots have flattened outlines, sometimes they are of decent length. The inflorescences are single, flattened spikelets, the sharp edge of which is turned towards the stem. There are 8-15 flowers in a spikelet. The fruit is an oval-elliptical caryopsis. It is somewhat similar to oat grains, although its size is smaller and there is an elongated hair at one end - an awn. The grain size, while it is in films, is 4.5–7 mm, awns in length reach 3.5–15 mm. Flowering begins at the same time as the entire grain array, which infests this species.

Related article: Tips for planting and caring for clover in your garden

Video about ryegrass and its cultivation:

Photos of ryegrass:

Photo of ryegrass 1
Photo of ryegrass 1
Photo of ryegrass 2
Photo of ryegrass 2
Photo of ryegrass 3
Photo of ryegrass 3
Photo of ryegrass 4
Photo of ryegrass 4
Photo of ryegrass 5
Photo of ryegrass 5

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