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How to Grow Grasses on the Prairie

Ask This Old House landscape designer Jenn Nawada partners with an ecologist in Cheyenne, Wyoming to learn about different types of prairie grasses and how to care for them

Steps for growing prairie grasses

  1. Identify areas that have grasses that are invasive or non-native that are harmful to the area. Some non-natives, like alfalfa, are not harmful. Grasses like cheat grass, which is short and flat with red tips, are harmful to the environment and can cause massive wildfires.
  2. To eliminate invasive or non-native grasses, spray a selective herbicide. Wait a few weeks for the invasives to die off, and then introduce native grasses.
  3. To plant native grasses, rent a seeder and fill it with a seed mix of native grasses. Drive the seeder around a select area close to the property that will make it easier to maintain. The seeder will drill a groove in the ground, drop some seeds in the ground, and then drag the soil over the grooves to keep the seeds from blowing away.
  4. To irrigate the grass, install a snow fence to slow the wind and keep the snow on top of the grass. Identify the direction of the prevailing winds to determine where to install the fence.
  5. To install the fence, hammer the livestock fence posts into the ground and secure the livestock fencing to the posts, using ties that come with the fencing.
  6. Using zip ties, secure the snow fencing to the livestock fencing.
  7. Once the new grass is established, don’t mow it. Allow the grass to grow naturally.

Resources

Jenn learned that the local conservation district can rent many of the tools required for treating or planting a yard with prairie grasses. Some of these tools can be rented from home centers, as well.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by the Laramie County Conservation District, the University of Wyoming Extension, Nawada Landscape Design, and Wanda Manley.


Tools