It is native to Europe, but in the cooler areas of North America was widely used as a pasture grass until the 1940s. Although it has largely been replaced by soybeans and more palatable grasses, it still gets some use in poor soils. It was one of the grasses planted in areas disturbed by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It generally does well in response to fires, due to survival of rhizomes and seeds.
This species is similar to Agrostis stolonifera, with the key difference being that the latter has stolons. In fact the two are sometimes treated as a single species, and it is not always clear precisely what an author means by Agrostis alba or Agrostis stolonifera.