How to Grow Desert Wheatgrass

Overview

Desert wheatgrass, also known as crested wheatgrass, thrives in areas that get only 12 to 14 inches of annual rainfall. While it is suitable for erosion control, this drought tolerant grass is enjoyed by grazing wildlife such as elk, deer and antelope, as well as domesticated livestock. The seeds of the mature desert wheatgrass are preferred by small mammals and birds as a food source, and the grass leaves are used by songbirds to create nesting areas.

Step 1

Prepare a seedbed for your wheatgrass by plowing or tilling the area to break up the soil. Remove as many weeds as possible to avoid competition for your seedlings.

Step 2

Plant your seeds in very early spring if your soil is considered heavy to medium in texture. In this type of soil your seeds will need to be planted an inch deep or less.

Step 3

Plant the seeds during late fall in medium- to light-textured soils at ½-inch deep or less. A seed drill often can make the task and accuracy of planting easier.

Step 4

Keep the field and seeds moist but not soaking wet. Watering daily for the first three to four weeks will ensure good germination. Do not over-water or your seedlings may not break through the soil.

Step 5

Mulch your seedlings, if needed, to keep weeds under control. Once established, your wheatgrass will be able to ward off weeds on its own. Until then, you should be aware of the weed levels in your field.

Step 6

Do not allow livestock to graze the new grasses until the field is established and headed out. Heading out should be easy to recognize because the plants will begin sending up stems and forming flowers while the actual grass production slows. While desert wheatgrass is tolerant of heavy grazing, livestock should be moved to another field when three inches of grass is left.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure you plow or till a field area that has good drainage and isn't where water remains for more than a day after a heavy rain.

Things You'll Need

  • Plow or tiller
  • Desert wheatgrass seeds
  • Seed drill
  • Mulch

References

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