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Meadow Grass Types

prairie image by Jean-Michel POUGET from

Meadow grasses (sometimes called prairie grass or landscape grass) are often used to prevent erosion, dry up a wet area, provide shelter for wildlife or feed livestock. Many types of meadow grass are native to the United States. Hardy and often quite beautiful, some of them they can even be used instead of traditional turf grasses.

Big Bluestem

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) can grow up to 10 inches tall and is often called "turkey's foot grass" for the distinctive shape of the seed heads. This grass has an attractive bluish color and grows best in loamy soil, although it will also grow in other soils and will even tolerate occasional drought. Big bluestem attracts butterflies, birds and other wildlife. It is an excellent foraging grass as well. Big bluestem is native to North America and grows best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 4 through 9.

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a warm-season prairie grass. This hardy, low-growing meadow grass forms sod and can be used as a turf grass. It is grayish-green in color and stands up well to foot traffic and grazing. Buffalo grass grows especially well in clay soil, but will grow in all types of soil and is hardy in USDA zones 4 though 9.

Sheep Fescue

Sheep fescue (Festuca ovina) is an attractive, clumping meadow grass that has thin strands topped with fluffy tufts of flowers. It also has an attractive blue-green color. Sheep fescue can grow to 18 inches tall and is often used for reclamation purposes, as it is extremely hardy and can grow on any type of soil, including alkaline or acidic. Elk and deer love to munch on this grass. Sheep fescue is hardy in USDA growing zones 4 through 9.

Prairie June Grass

Prairie June grass (Koeleria cristata) is native to the United States. This perennial thrives in dry, sandy soil and can grow to a height of 2 feet. The clumping grass is silver-green in color. Prairie June grass is often planted to stabilize loose, sandy soil or even sand dunes. The grass in hardy in USDA growing zones 4 though 9.

Indian Rice Grass

Indian rice grass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) was used as a grain by Native Americans. This striking grass, which starts out green in the spring and becomes a light blond color by the end of summer, is often used as an ornamental grass. The delicate grass grows in bunches. Indian rice grass is also more cold and warm hardy than other meadow grasses, with a USDA growing zone of 3 through 10. Indian rice grass is drought-tolerant, grows well in sand and is commonly used as erosion control.

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