Conservation Grasses

Varieties and growth characteristics of grasses used for reclaiming sites, new developments, highway banks, disturbed soil, gas drilling locations, ditches, pastures, strip mines and wetlands.


NOTE: Seeding rates shown below are at the higher end of most recommended seeding rates. Also, seeding rates below are for "PLS" or Pure Live Seed. Therefore, if a seeding rate calls for 10 lbs per acre, and you have a seed with an 80% germination rate, plant 12½ lbs per acre. Math calculation: 12.5 lbs x .80 germination rate = 100% PLS

Big Bluestem - Andropogon gerardii

  • Uses: Erosion control plant for gravel pits, sand pits, mine spoil and road banks. Provides cover and food for wildlife.

  • Planting: Early spring seeding at 20 lbs per acre. Compact the soil after seeding. Slow germination, but good cover by the end of the second year.

  • Sites: Prefers sunny, dry, well-drained areas and tolerates drought. Tolerates low-fertility on acidic clay, sand or loam soils. pH 5.0 - 7.5

Crested Wheatgrass - Agropyron cristatum

  • Uses: Stabilization of disturbed soils. Forage production in arid western regions of the U.S.

  • Planting: Seed in early spring at 10 lbs per acre, or as a dormant seeding in late fall.

  • Sites: Low maintenance grass that is drought resistant and winter hardy. This fairway type is not as drought tolerant as standard crested wheatgrass.

Gas drilling site with a large area of disturbed soil

Gas drilling site with a large area of disturbed soil

Deertongue - Panicum clandestinum

  • Uses: Acid mine spoil vegetation, road banks, ditches and gravel pits.

  • Planting: Early spring seeding at 15 lbs per acre. Full cover in two years. Add 15 lbs of tall fescue or perennial rye for faster cover.

  • Sites: Prefers sunny areas. Grows in low fertility, acidic, loam or sandy soil. Excellent drought tolerance. pH 3.8 - 5.0

Eastern Gamagrass - Tripsacum dactyloides

  • Uses: High energy forage in pastures, and for wildlife. Its natural habitat includes stream banks, swales and moist areas.

  • Planting: Early spring or a late fall dormant seeding at 8 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions. Drought tolerant. Responds well to fertilization.

Indiangrass - Sorghastrum nutans

  • Uses: Hay and pasture grass, wildlife habitat, erosion control and roadside beautification.

  • Planting: Early spring seeding at 10 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Throughout the northern US, preferring deep, well-drained soil. Tolerates moderately wet soils. pH 5.5 - 7.5

Intermediate Wheatgrass - Agropyron intermedium

  • Uses: For fast establishment in reclamation areas and waterways.

  • Planting: Early spring seeding. Responds well to nitrogen fertilization.

  • Sites: Grows best in well drained loam soils, but adaptable to wet areas. pH 5.6 - 8.4

Little Bluestem - Andropogon scoparius

  • Uses: Slopes, road banks and summer forage for livestock. Provides cover and food for wildlife.

  • Planting: Seed at 12 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Doesn't compete well with other species. Prefers a pH of 5.5 - 6.5

Meadow Foxtail - Alopecurus pratensis

  • Uses: Meadows, swampy soils and wetlands. Turkey habitat.

  • Planting: Use in mixtures at 5 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Heat tolerant and winter hardy. Widely adapted but prefers cool, moist, neutral to acidic soil.

Sand Lovegrass - Eragrostis trichodes

  • Uses: Warm season, native grass. Begins spring growth earlier than other grasses.

  • Planting: Seed in spring at 4 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Prefers sandy soil in full sun, but tolerates heavier soils. pH 4.5 - 8.0

Sideoats Grama - Bouteloua curtipendula

  • Uses: Native warm season perennial grass east of the Rocky Mountains on dry, rocky or sandy sites. Used in wildflower plantings. Turkey cover and food source.

  • Planting: Seed in spring at 15 lbs per acre.

  • Sites: Nearly any soil type in full sun to partial shade.

Switchgrass - Panicum virgatum

  • Uses: Stabilization on sand dunes, dikes and strip mine spoil. Good cover for wildlife.

  • Planting: Seed at 10 lbs per acre. Establishment in one to two years.

  • Sites: Tolerates low-fertility acidic clay, loam or sandy soils. Excellent drought tolerance. pH 4.5 - 7.5

Weeping Lovegrass - Eragrostis curvula

  • Uses: Fast growing, temporary cover for erosion control or mine spoil. Grass is more permanent in southern areas of the US. Cover for ground nesting birds. Nurse grass.

  • Planting: Spring seeding through July, after all chance of frost has ended.

  • Sites: Tolerates low fertility but prefers well drained soil. pH 4.5 - 8.0


Renovating an ugly lawn

Cutting back ornamental grass clumps

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