Seeding After A Fire

Our greatest hope is that we can offer help on your journey to  recovering your land and belongings by seeding after a fire. Great Basin Seeds can offer you the highest quality ready made seed mixes to protect your property from the unavoidable erosions and aftermath of fires. The guidelines below can be applicable to many fire situations in the western United States.

seeding after a fire
seeding after a fire

When to Plant?

After a major wildfire erosion control should be your number one priority. Planting at the right time is crucial to establishing the land again. “Wildlands” or “range” seedings are usually most effective when sown in the fall or winter. Consider the natural life cycle of a plant: it blossoms in the spring or early summer, produces fruit (seed) late summer and drops the seed in the fall. The seed lays dormant in the ground until spring when it germinates and grows into a new plant. The process repeats itself. Fall plantings most closely replicate that cycle. Fall plantings usually start in late september and run through october, but successful plantings can be sown as late as November and December.

While fall plantings are generally preferred, spring plantings work well also – don’t be discouraged or feel you can’t plant just because fall has passed. Try to get the seed on the ground as soon as possible so that it takes advantage of early spring moisture. Spring plantings are considered a good second choice.

The purpose of this page is to help you:

  • Select the right seed species to recover the vegetation that was burned off
  • Prevent erosion
  • Mitigate or prevent future fires from having the same dramatic effect.

Seed After A Fire Recommendations

Below are tables of recommended grasses, forbs (flowers) and shrubs in the Midwest after a fire. These plants are likely already established or growing in your area as native or introduced species or are commonly used in fire rehabilitation and erosion control in the western United States.

For the purposes of this seeding after a fire help page, “irrigated” is any species that requires 16″ or more annual precipitation. If your area does not have at least 16″ then you should plan to irrigate or plant dryland or drought tolerant species. Many of Great Basin Seeds plant species are hand picked for their drought tolerance. 

Skip to the chase…buy ready made mixes! If you are not at all familiar with plants and seed, don’t worry. We can help you! We have formulated recommended seed mixes from the recommendations of the agencies in your area. They are species proven to work in your area. You can simply skip past all of the technical “stuff” and move straight to buying the prescribed mix in the online store.

Recommended Grass Species

Recommended Grass Species

Grass SpeciesH2O NeedsGeneral Comments
Snake River WheatgrassDrylandGreat dryland species (introduced)
Intermediate WheatgrassDrylandEstablishes well, good for pasture
Hycrest Crested WheatgrassDrylandGreat dryland species (introduced)
Bluebunch WheatgrassDrylandGreat dryland species (native)
Siberian WheatgrassDrylandGreat dryland species (introduced)
Indian RicegrassDrylandEstablishes and persists in sandy, dry soil
Thickspike WheatgrassDrylandExcellent sodformer for erosion control
Western WheatgrassDrylandGreat dryland species (native)
Russian WildryeDrylandGreat dryland species (introduced)
Basin WildryeDrylandGreat dryland species (native)
Sheep FescueDrylandExcellent for disturbed sites (introduced)
Sand DropseedDrylandGood for soil stabilization (native)
Smooth BromeDrylandExcellent for erosion control but can be weedy
Idaho FescueDrylandDeep root system for erosion control (native)
Bottlebrush SquirreltailDrylandExcellent dryland choice (native)
Slender WheatgrassDrylandGreat high elevation species
Tall FescueDrylandEstablishes easy, needs water (introduced)
Needle and Thread GrassDrylandExcellent erosion control but pesky needles!
Sandberg BluegrassIrrigatedEstablishes well, needs regular water (native)
Hard FescueDrylandRequires more water than Sheep Fescue
Prairie JunegrassDrylandAn excellent choice but cost prohibitive
OrchardgrassIrrigatedExcept for “Paiute” variety it needs irrigation
Perennial RyegrassIrrigatedNeeds irrigation to thrive
Tall WheatgrassDrylandEstablishes in saline areas, not good forage
Annual RyegrassIrrigatedFast establishing, short lived annual

Recommended Forbs and Flowers

Forbs & LegumesH2O NeedsNotes
Yellow SweetcloverDryland or IrrigatedFast establishing bi-annual, good erosion control
Lewis Blue FlaxDrylandShowy perennial, good erosion control
SainfoinDryland or Irrigated
Small BurnetDryland or Irrigated
Small Flower GlobemallowDryland
Munro’s GlobemallowDryland
Annual SunflowerDryland
Lander AlfalfaDryland or Irrigated
Palmer’s PenstemonDrylandThrives in disturbed soils, persistent after fire
California PoppyDryland or Irrigated
Strawberry CloverDryland or IrrigatedTolerates saline soils
Alsike CloverDryland or Irrigated
Red CloverDryland or Irrigated
Perennial GaillardiaDryland
Silvery LupineDryland
Showy GoldeneyeDryland
White Dutch CloverDryland or Irrigated
Ladino CloverDryland or Irrigated
Gooseberryleaf GlobemallowDryland
Firecracker PenstemonDryland
Rocky Mountain BeeplantDryland or Irrigated
White YarrowDryland or Irrigated

Recommended Shrub Species

ShrubsH2O NeedsNotes
Antelope BitterbrushDryland
CliffroseDryland
Blue ElderberryDryland or Irrigated
GreasewoodDryland
Forage KochiaDryland
Curl Leaf MahoganyDryland
Birchleaf MahoganyDryland
Rubber RabbitbrushDryland
Woods RoseDryland or Irrigated
Basin Big SagebrushIrrigated
Mountain Big SagebrushDryland
Wyoming Big SagebrushDryland
Fourwing SaltbrushDryland
Shadscale SaltbrushIrrigated
Western WheatgrassDryland or Irrigated
Skunkbush SumacDryland or Irrigated
WinterfatDryland

 

How can I prevent erosion and prevent future fires?

Recovering the vegetation on your land is the quickest and most effective long term solution for erosion control. The links below contain valuable documents and information on a variety of ways to establish a successful seeding prevent erosion:

The Okanogan Conservation District has put together an excellent page of helps and resources here.

An excellent website is the Washington Fire Recovery website.

A very good resource is the Colorado State University website. They have put together an excellent “action plan” for post-fire vegetative work and erosion prevention.

Incident Information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4534/
Methow Valley News: http://methowvalleynews.com
Wiki Page on Wahington State Wildfires: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Washington_state_wildfires
Soil Erosion Control after Wildfire: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06308.html  or  Download PDF