How to Establish Switch Grass


Switch grass, also called Panicum virgatum, is a warm-season perennial grass native to prairies in the United States. Farmers know grow this grass across the United States for erosion control, forage and as a biomass crop for biofuel production. Once established, it grows quickly and requires little irrigation or fertilization. Knowledge of how to get it to this point will help you grow a dependable grass that comes back strong each year.

Step 1

Start planting switch grass after the soil temperature warms to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring. Choose an appropriate site in full sun. This type of grass likes moderately well-drained soils that are moderately fertile, with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. It can tolerate wet soil and small amounts of flooding.

Step 2

Clear the soil of all competing grasses and weeds. Till the soil deeply, breaking up clumps and removing any large rocks. The switch grass may benefit from mixing in 1 inch of organic compost into the soil.

Step 3

Rent a cultipacker or roller from an agricultural store. Roll over the tilled earth to firm it up.

Step 4

Broadcast the seed over the earth, spreading it as evenly as possible. Roll over the seed with the cultipacker or roller to increase seed contact with the soil.

Step 5

Water the switch grass, keeping it moist, but not soaked, until it starts to grow. When you see vigorous growth, the switch grass can survive on rain alone.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Organic compost
  • Switch grass seed
  • Cultipacker or roller


  • University of Missouri: Big Bluestem, Indiangrass and Switchgrass
  • Iowa State University: Switchgrass
  • University of Wisconsin Extension: Establishing and Managing Switchgrass
Keywords: establishing switch grass, switch grass soil, switch grass seed

About this Author

Sarah Morse recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature. She has been freelancing for three months and got her start writing for an environmental website.