Step 3 - Planning

Step 3, of our 4-step guide, covers planning your grassland management.


Missed Step 1 -2? Revisit these essentials grassland management stages.



Planning to reseed 15% of your grassland every year will ensure that, within six years, you’ll have the latest modern grass varieties available across your farm.


When deciding what grass to sow, think about the options and do your research. Don’t just rely on what you know. Grass genetics have changed a lot in the last twenty years - with our grasses showing an average year-on-year improvement in yield of 0.5%. It is unlikely that you’d rely on genetics from a quarter of a century ago for your livestock - so why do the same with grass?


When choosing a grass seed mixture/product, think about what you want the crop to achieve:


  • How long do you want it to last? (See the table below for a rough guide)
  • What to sow?
  • When to sow?
  • Will it be cut or grazed? Or both?
  • How will your field be grazed?
  • Do you need strong ryegrass growth rates early in spring or is late spring feed quality more important?
  • Which stock class will use the grass?


Grass mixture types Typical duration 
Annual Less than 1 year 
Italian Ryegrass  1 - 2 years 
Short Rotation  2-4 years 
Long Rotation  5+ years 
Perennial 8+ years




If you don’t know much about grass, deciding between a diploid and tetraploid can be difficult/ confusing. Below we’ve detailed some differences to help making the decision-making process easier.




More dense pasture  More palatable (higher soluble carbohydrate)
More forgiving under grazing in stress environmnents   Improved & faster digestibility (higher cell content ratio)
More competitive with weeds Improved utilisation & intake
Improved persistence  Improved animal production 
  More clover friendly (10% more clover)
  Visually more impressive. 



If you are still undecided, you could go for a mixture - giving you the best of both worlds. Whatever route you choose, make sure the seed you pick is able to meet your needs. There can be a big difference in the quality of mixture ranges available. Try to choose products or mixtures that contain grasses which feature on national recommended lists. This will make sure you get a modern, well-developed variety, that will perform as it should.


Once you’ve picked your grass seed mixture, the next step is to create a grassland management plan and decide when would be the best time to take a field out of rotation to sow. Grass seed can be sown at anytime from April to September - ideally when the soil is moist or when rain is forecast and the weather is frost free. If possible keep animals off as long as possible to enable establishment and manage the swards effectively - see Step 4 for other top tips.


Productive Species Guide

There are over 10,000 species of grass in the world. Naturally we can’t list them all here, so we’ve concentrated on a selection of key productive species, which you can find detailed here. Of course, if you need more grass advice specific to your needs and situation, get in touch.


  DESCRIPTION Dark green, densely or loosely tufted. Folded shoot and leaves.
  FLOWERING HEAD Flattened spike with the spikelets arranged alternately on opposite side of the stem. The spikelets are stalk-less with the narrow, rounded face fitting against the stem. 
  LEAF BLADE Ribbed on upper surface, smooth and shiny underside 
  AURICLES & LIGULE Auricles are usually well developed, up to 1/12 of an inch (2mm) long, or are sometimes lacking.  




A brighter green than perennials, densely or loosely tufted.
Similar to ryegrass but leaves rolled into the bud and not folded.

Tends to be larger, stouter and more densely tufted than ryegrass.

  LEAF BLADE Ribbed on upper surface, smooth below.
Red at base.
  AURICLES & LIGULE Narrow, spreading, prominent when old.
Small, 2mm. Blunt





The hybrid ryegrass is a cross between the Italian and perennial
forms of ryegrass and shares characteristics of both.
The dominant parent determines how the variety performs in
the field.

Characterised as a rapid growing variety lasting from 1-5 years
or longer depending on summer conditions and endophyte status.




An annual ryegrass. Recent breeding advances in the
development of quality Westerwold varieties mean it is now a
serious option for UK farmers.


Westerwold annual ryegrass is an ecotype of Italian ryegrass
selected for earliness, and is not botanically different from Italian
ryegrass and its characteristics are also similar.


  DESCRIPTION Our modern Timothys are bred to have softer leaves and higher palatability. The coarse tufted grass with many varieties covering a range of growth habits. Generally light green or greyish-green. Flattened shoot.
Dense cylindrical spike giving the alternative common name.
Spikelets are small, single flowered and tightly packed; green, often tinted pink or white.
  LEAF BLADE Flattended Broad leaves. Smooth, double rib down the centre.
Boat shaped at tip.
Small and spreading, minutely hairy.
Short, 2mm. Finely serrated



  DESCRIPTION Our modern Cocksfoots are bred to have softer leaves and higher palatability. Large, coarse-looking tufted grass often bluish-green in colour.
One-sided, distinctive flower/feather like seed head. Spikelets
are small flattened and condensed into oval shaped clusters.
  LEAF BLADE Dull leaf, flattened, wide and flat



  DESCRIPTION Very tall tufted perennial forming dense tussocks. Tillers large and foliage coarse. Short bristles along edge of collar (visible with magnification).
  LEAF BLADE Broad green leaves, fringed auricle and strongly ribbed leaves,
glossy lower surface.
Harsh to touch with fine silica teeth which can be felt.
Small and spreading, minutely hairy.
Short, 2mm. Finely serrated



  DESCRIPTION Clover fixes nitrogen in the soil (figures of 170-220kg N/ha/ yr are achievable) - and is therefore a very valuable species in efficient grassland management.
A perennial legume with round leaves and very long stalks. Key to its survival is its multi-branched creeping stem (stolon), which provides sites for new leaves, roots, and flowers.
(red flowers)
A short-lived perennial legume that typically lasts for two to four years. In contrast to white clover, it has oval leaves, an upright growth habit, and a strong deep tap root.


Step 4 - Establish

Once step 3 is complete move on to step 4, Establish.