How to Grow Western Wheatgrass

Overview

Found in almost all areas of North America, western wheatgrass is slow to get started, but once established is easy to maintain and keeps weeds away. Western wheatgrass can be grown for grazing animals such as cattle, horses and sheep, as well as antelope and deer. Because of the successful nature of an established area of western wheatgrass, the plant also works as an erosion control on hillsides, canyons and ditches, and can be used as a turf grass for lawns.

Step 1

Purchase enough seed to cover the amount of land you want to plant. Western wheatgrass requires 6 to 12 pounds of seed per acre of land you are planting.

Step 2

Use a seed drill to set your seeds 3/4 to 1/2 inches deep into the soil. This depth can be less if your soil is a medium-to-fine texture. Plant in coarse-to-medium soils in early spring, and in medium-to-light soils in late fall.

Step 3

Water just enough to keep the soil moist for the first three to four weeks, or until the grass is one inch tall. Do not allow water to pool or the top layer of soil may enclose the seeds, keeping them from growing up through the surface. An irrigation system is an option to maintain moisture without much labor.

Step 4

Allow up to four growing seasons before your field is considered established. Because of poor seed germination, western wheatgrass takes this long as it relies more on the spread of healthy grasses than seed vigor.

Step 5

Let animals graze heavily on the wheatgrass only after it is fully established. Rotate grazing animals to another field when 3 to 4 inches of grass remains.

Tips and Warnings

  • Because of the amount of time necessary to establish a good bed of western wheatgrass, if you are considering using it for a lawn, it may be easier to purchase it as sod rather than as seed. Mow the wheatgrass just as you would any other lawn.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed drill
  • Irrigation system (optional)
  • Mulch (optional)

References

  • USDA plant guide
  • Plant database
Keywords: wheatgrass, western 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.