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Bluebunch wheatgrass and Junegrass

I have to do some reseeding where I put in a new septic last year.  The previous owners had a ‘septic’ that was a large hole in the ground in the middle of the front yard.  It was covered with dirt when I arrived with an upright stick marking the spot.  That way you wouldn’t drive a vehicle over it.  See the stick marking the box in the ground called a septic!

Before I purchased the house I had it inspected (trying to be good on my ‘due diligence’ and everything).  I hired a contractor who did a home inspection.  Besides his comment “Someone should never have had a hammer in his hands”, which fully described my place, he said he couldn’t find the entry point for the septic.  There was no record of it being cleaned nor installed.  Knowing full well someday I’d have to deal with that issue, I purchased the property regardless.

Last year when I came in April, I couldn’t help but notice a gigantic sinkhole at my front porch.  It was the cavernous entrance to my septic, now fully exposed.  We’d had plenty of water last spring and the ground finally just caved in around it.  Basically, it had been a big wooden box with a concrete pipe running into it.  The wood was gone but the pipe was still intact.  The hole was about 6 feet deep and wide.  I figured this was now an emergency before some kid fell into the hole. So I installed my new septic.

The new septic was a real one, with not just a tank but a leach field too, of course.  All that digging last May left a bare spot that evolved into a mud zone.  Of course I needed and wanted to reseed, but I wanted to do it ‘right’.  For me that meant native grasses–native to this ecozone.  New septic tank

Leach field.  This will be a muddy area soon.

Most people around here either seed for horses or cattle, or they put in a fescue lawn and water all summer.  I certainly wasn’t into watering.  Not only is it wasteful if it’s not necessary for horses or livestock (water is precious in the west, even if it does come out of my spring year round), but it’s just so much work (oh, the mowing!).  I’m not into that kind of work.  And being a designer from the West, lawn is just not compatible.  In fact, I could always tell where my clients came from by if they wanted a lawn on their property.

I’m not familiar with the native grasses in Wyoming, so I called up the forest service in Cody.  The Forest Service referred me to another department that deals with conservation.  They were very helpful, and gave me a list from a book of ‘low maintenance’ grasses used mostly on pasture land.  These weren’t necessarily natives, and if they were,not necessarily native to my site.

I happened upon the Dead Indian Archaeological botanical site evaluation.  It listed the plant communities nearby and the native plants associated with each one i.e. Sagebrush grassland or Open Grassland on shallow volcanic soil, etc.  There were 9 plant communities just around the Dead Indian site.  That site is fairly adjacent to my property, so I used that as a guide.  The community where my septic lies is Open Grassland on limestone soil. The dominant grasses here are Bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum)Agropyron spicatum--state grass of Montana

and Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria cristata)June Grass- Koeleria cristata Fescues (Festuca spp.) are found around as well.  So that’s what I’ve ordered.

Its a perfect time to seed.  Its raining and snowing and sunny, sometimes all in one day.  The ground is moist.  New grass is starting to show.  The seed needs about 40 degrees to germinate and I’ll seed twice the rate, then cover it with straw to foil the birds.Native grasses 'look'.

For all those who care, I highly recommend bunch grasses.  For the West, they are our native perennial grasses, here for ions before the Europeans brought their cattle and with them came their annuals.  These reseed rapidly and overtake the smaller bunch grasses.  Because of Wyoming’s higher elevation, invasive annuals have not been as much of a problem as in other parts of the West.  But one, Cheatgrass, has been seen to be evolving into places not seen before.

One Response

  1. Leslie, plant Idaho fescue. For your location, for wildlife, for your viewing pleasure. Native species. Don’t expect much the first year.


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