How to Grow Snake River Wheatgrass


Found in the northwest areas of the United States, the Snake River wheatgrass, also called bluebunch wheatgrass, is often used for grazing of livestock or wildlife. Not only is the Snake River wheatgrass a favorite of cattle, horses, elk, and deer, but also it is used for erosion control because of its strong resistance to drought. A persistent grower which doesn't tend to spread to unplanted areas, the Snake River wheatgrass does best on a medium to coarse textured soil.

Step 1

Make sure your plowed field or tilled area is weed free. For an easy planting, a seedbed should be as cleared as possible.

Step 2

Seed coarse to medium textured soils during the very early spring, and medium to light soils should be seeded in late fall. Unless you have irrigation systems in place, don't seed in late summer or you may end up with nothing but a dry field.

Step 3

Plant seeds only ¼-inch deep in finer soils, ½-inch or less in medium soil, and up to ¾-inch in coarse soil. For large areas a seed drill is recommended for quicker more accurate planting.

Step 4

Water the seeds lightly, but frequently. A simple spray or mist daily is better than a downpour every couple of days. Continue watering daily for about the first three weeks to ensure germination.

Step 5

Allow up to three years for the stands to fully establish. Other than wildlife, don't graze any animals on the wheatgrass until it is established and has started to flower.

Step 6

Let livestock have a spring grazing only after the plants are established and the first 6 inches of new growth has come up. If they graze too heavily in the spring, keep them away from grazing the field again until the flowers are halfway out of the protecting leaf. Do not allow spring grazing for another two years to avoid damaging the grasses.

Tips and Warnings

  • Once established your Snake River wheatgrass should hold its own fairly well, however, you may need to act as weed control until then to allow the plants to fully establish without competition.

Things You'll Need

  • Plowed field or area
  • Snake River wheatgrass seeds
  • Seed drill, optional


  • PLANTS Profile
  • USDA Fact Sheet
  • Forages; Robert F. Barnes, C. Jerry Nelson, Kenneth J. Moore, Michael Collins; 2007
Keywords: wheatgrass, snake river wheatgrass, growing wheatgrass

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.