How to Grow Thickspike Wheatgrass


More commonly called streambank wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass is used for grazing livestock and wildlife, and acts as an erosion blocker. Because thickspike wheatgrass can survive in areas with a total annual rainfall of 8 to 20 inches, it is a good grass for land reclamation or as a general ground cover. Low-maintenance thickspike wheatgrass is easy to grow and care for once the plant is established.

Step 1

Prepare your field area by plowing or tilling the seedbed and removing as many weeds as possible. Approximate the size of your field so you can purchase enough seed to cover it. Purchase 6 to 8 lb. of seed per acre to provide adequate coverage and give the seeds room to germinate and grow.

Step 2

Plant the seeds 1 inch deep or less into coarse or medium soil very early in the spring. Plant medium-to-light soil late in the fall, 1/2 inch deep or less. Use a seed drill for better accuracy and efficiency.

Step 3

Moisten the seeds by spraying or misting them lightly on a daily basis for the first three to four weeks. One time, heavy waterings may result in a dry crust of soil over the seeds, keeping them from growing or reaching sunlight.

Step 4

Graze cattle, horses and sheep on the thickspike wheatgrass only after the stands become established and have headed out. With an established field, animals can heavily graze throughout the growing season. By the fall, the grass will be too coarse to consume.

Step 5

Manage your wheatgrass and make note if older stands become sod bound. With a heavy accumulation of both live and dead roots, water won't be able to soak into the soil or make nitrogen available in a sod bound field.

Step 6

Practice moderate deferment to combat sod bound grass. In the spring and fall, rotate your grazing animals to another field, only allowing moderate grazing on the thickspike wheatgrass.

Step 7

Fertilize any sod-bound grasses with a fertilizer that's high in nitrogen. Use manure to fertilize, or add ammonium nitrate, urea or urea-ammonium nitrate solutions to the soil in appropriate quantities for your area after harvest or grazing. Add more fertilizer after each harvest, as needed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Allow your grass to reach at least 6 inches tall in the spring before you let livestock graze it. If the stand is not established, do not let your animals graze, or it may kill off your plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Plow or tiller
  • Seed drill


  • Forages; Robert F. Barnes, C. Jerry Nelson, Kenneth J. Moore, Michael Collins; 2007
  • USDA Plant guide
Keywords: wheatgrass, thickspike wheatgrass, streambank 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.