How to Grow Great Lakes Wheatgrass


Great Lakes wheatgrass is a low maintenance plant suitable for grazing and erosion control. Also called streambank wheatgrass, and a subspecies of thickspike wheatgrass, the Great Lakes wheatgrass grows as its name suggests in the Great Lakes regions of the United States and Canada. A sod-forming grass, it can be grazed throughout the entire growing season and will become tough enough in the fall to protect itself from overgrazing before winter.

Step 1

Establish a seedbed for planting by loosening the soil with a plowor tiller. Remove any weeds you find to keep them from competing with your seedlings. Buy 6 to 8 pounds of seed for every acre you are planting.

Step 2

Plant Great Lakes wheatgrass seeds in the very early spring if your soil is considered medium to coarse in texture. Seeds in this soil should be planted up to an inch deep or less.

Step 3

Seed in late fall if your soil is more light to medium. These seeds need to be only half an inch deep or less.

Step 4

Water the soil daily just enough to moisten it and keep the seeds damp for germination. Continue to spray or mist the soil for up to four weeks to aid new growth.

Step 5

Allow the field to become established and headed out before you use it for pasture grazing. Livestock can graze heavily on an established Great Lakes wheatgrass field without fear of killing off the plants.

Step 6

Control the first spring grazing by letting the grasses grow to at least 6 inches long before animals are let into the field.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your grasses become sod-bound, where growth is declining and water is unable to soak through into the soil, remove livestock from the field for a time and fertilize with manure, urea, ammonium or another fertilizer high in nitrogen.

Things You'll Need

  • Tiller or plow
  • Great Lakes wheatgrass seeds
  • Seed drill
  • Irrigation system or other water source


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