Choosing the right/best prairie grass send

Asked November 15, 2016, 1:34 PM EST

We live on a farm in Minnetrista and have recently taken part of our front pasture and converted it to a rolling berm in the front of our property for more privacy, noise reduction and aesthetics as well. We are close to having the berm completed but would like to find a tall (preferably 4ft or taller) prairie grass seed to plant. We want something that requires no maintenance for the most part and is safe for horses or cows if they were to ever get out of their pasture and eat the grass. We need enough seed to cover approximately 2 acres. I love the look of the Ornamental Miscanthus grasses with the whispy tops but I assume those grow in clumps and need to be cut back yearly for maintanence upkeep. Is there something out there that has that look but can grow and not be maintained, and just let to grow on its own, withstand wind, and it would be getting full sun. I would really appreciate any advise I could get. Also info on best time to plant seeds, etc... Could we still plant this late in the year? Thank you, Jennifer

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

You might consider big bluestem (or little bluestem if you want something smaller). Both are native prairie grasses. Both are perfectly safe for livestock:

All the grasses the size you are considering are clumping grasses and look best if they are cut down in the spring, although they don't have to if in a prairie setting. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum burns its grasses in the spring, so consider that if local laws allow it. Cutting it down is not hard, but 2 acres is a lot.

There are a number of local nurseries that specialize in prairie plantings. You'll find a list here:

These nurseries can supply you with seeds or plants.

You might consider a trip to the Arboretum. They have a terrific collection of grasses. Also, you should read this publication:

Thank you for the quick response. Big Bluestem was one I am considering. What is your thought about Indian Grass?
I found a local nursery that also sells a tall grass mix. It has Big Bluestem, Indian grass, and several other varieties of grasses mixed in. I tend to like the look of one species of plantings ( a consistent overall look, rather than a mix I think). Would the Indian Grass be something you would also recommend?
Thank you again for your time.


Indian grass is a very good choice. It is mentioned prominently in the extension link I sent you.

Big bluestem and Indian grass are a good start in a mix, but also check out the other seeds in it.