Planting a Patch of Tall Grass Prairie

September 23rd, 2009

Way back in April, we planted us a patch o’ tallgrass. Mike and I both love the Flint Hills and the Tall Grass Prairie preserves in our area. We have a few acres on which nothing but brome grows, so we thought it would be interesting to see if we could get some tallgrass established instead.

There was one patch in particular on our land that was almost bare dirt.  That area was the first to spring up with these lovely, tall, uh… grasses a few months ago.

We were so proud!

So many people had told us that it was near to impossible to plant tall grass without first setting off a nuclear bomb and ridding your land of every other growing plant within a hundred mile radius. Evidently tallgrass seed requires bare dirt and very little competition to get established and thrive.

But we decided to ignore all the naysayers and throw the seed down on top of what was already there and see what happened.

And look what we got!

Lots and lots and lots and lots of…..


Noxious WEEDS!  

This is not tallgrass. This is Giant Foxtail and it is the first weed that springs up on bare dirt in our area.

It is kind of pretty though. Don’t you think?

There is also a bit of honest to goodness tallgrass growing in amongst all the foxtail. It is not a thriving tallgrass prairie yet – but it is much closer than if we had never thrown the seed down in the first place!

In the meantime, I will just admire my pretty patch of weeds!


  • Why do noxious weeds have to be so darn purdy? (Well, except that Canadian Thistle. Yeowch!)

    Here’s hoping the tallgrass puts the beatdown on the Foxtail.

  • Barbara:

    I live in St. Louis and often travel to Colorado to visit my folks. I just love our ride through Kansas and I’m with you on loving the Flint Hills area. It is so beautiful. And that area seems to untouched – so much so that I almost expect one day to see a covered wagon making its way West.

  • Poor foxtail. It probably doesn’t know it’s reviled as a weed. And it IS pretty– especially when some brilliant photographer takes a picture of it in the evening sun…

  • becky up a hill:

    Your Kansas Fox Tail looks so sweet and innocent. Our California Fox Tail, is mean and stickery. I think it has put more Vet’s kids through college then any other weed. Love your idea for the prairie grass.

  • You have captured the weeds in their best light.

  • your tall foxtail is beautiful!


  • Congratulations! Your weeds look great. (Psst…would not have known the difference…)

  • Eh, grass is grass, except when it’s grass. And oddly, weeds are just weeds and unwanted unless you see them as wildflowers or unless it is weed which is also called grass. It’s all very confusing.

    We did something similar, though. I think most of what came up was fox tail, but I’m okay with that. I think it’s kinda pretty and I will not listen to my FIL when he says things like “crap” grass. If he wants to call it weeds, I’m fine with that. I likeweeds. But not weed. Unless a weed proves itself harmful like, say, poison ivy or Johnson grass (harmful to horses), I say let it be. Sometimes I even start singing Let It Be. And you know what? Even that poison ivy and Johnson grass are pretty this time of year. The Johnson grass might work for flower arrangements, but I wouldn’t attempt that with the poison ivy.

    Enjoy your beautiful weedy grass and be glad you didn’t poison the earth with all sorts of chemicals. (Ha. There is a post wanting to be written on this subject. Let’s just say being trigger happy with the sprayer makes me about as pressuring a child to play football. Don’t you dare spray my sumac or sunflowers!) The fox tail is right purdy, and I just love the name. It makes me think of wild foxes convening and cavorting by the light of the moon reflected on our pond.

  • Kellye:

    Your photo of your weeds is wonderful. You are really rockin’ that camera. Good investment.

  • Jennifer:

    I don’t think we have foxtail here in NYC (or Long Island). Maybe? Your photos are pretty, but I know about how vile it is from reading This post had me rolling! (she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but her stories about her dog Coco are awesome).

  • Kelly in Florida:

    Jenni in KS, your stream of consciousness makes me laugh.

  • Mike? Who is this “Mike” you speak of? Is that the CD??!!

  • That first photo is amazing!
    My whole yard is mostly weeds. It looks ok after we mow it so I’m not worried! Although, if we put week killer on it, there would be nothing left to mow. It would look kinda like the front yard of the Malcolm in the Middle show!

  • Tammra:

    Hi Rechelle,
    Late on this post, I was on vacation. But I did read this during the summer:
    Nature’s second chance : restoring the ecology of Stone Prairie Farm
    Apfelbaum, Steven
    Not quite a gardening book, not necessarily an ecology book, but he does talk about how he and his wife turned an old farmstead into wild praire grasses. And I like the ‘weeds’ What I wouldn’t give for space to grow tall fluffy weeds in my concrete jungle suburban yard, your blog is my escape. Thanks.