© 2017 Optical Society of America. This paper is devoted to the improvement of ground-based telescopes based on diffractive primary lenses, which provide larger aperture and relaxed surface tolerance compared to non-diffractive telescopes. We performed two different studies devised to thoroughly characterize and improve the performance of ground-based diffractive telescopes. On the one hand, we experimentally validated the suitability of the stitching error theory, useful to characterize the error performance of subaperture diffractive telescopes. On the other hand, we proposed a novel ground-based telescope incorporated in a Cassegrain architecture, leading to a telescope with enhanced performance. To test the stitching error theory, a 300 mm diameter, 2000 mm focal length transmissive stitching diffractive telescope, based on a three-belt subaperture primary lens, was designed and implemented. The telescope achieves a 78 cy/mm resolution within 0.15 degree field of view while the working wavelength ranges from 582.8 nm to 682.8 nm without any stitching error. However, the long optical track (35.49 m) introduces air turbulence that reduces the final images contrast in the ground-based test. To enhance this result, a same diameter compacted Cassegrain ground-based diffractive (CGD) telescope with the total track distance of 1.267 m, was implemented within the same wavelength. The ground-based CGD telescope provides higher resolution and better contrast than the transmissive configuration. Star and resolution tests were experimentally performed to compare the CGD and the transmissive configurations, providing the suitability of the proposed ground-based CGD telescope.