Post Fire Seeding Recommendations

Seeding success:

The following items are important to the success of your seeding:

  1. Type of herbicide applications used and their residual effects on grass and forb species.
  2. Proper seedbed preparation.
  3. Timing of seeding.
  4. Correct seed placement (seed depth with seed-soil contact).
  5. Seeding operation that matches seed mixture and seedbed conditions.
  6. An adapted seed mixture.
  7. Adequate post-planting weed control.

Seedbed preparation:

The ideal seedbed for a low-precipitation grass seeding has lots of “safe sites” for the seed to fall into. Seedbeds for dormant seedings may be loose, but seedbeds for spring seedings must be firm. Weeds can be controlled by using herbicides as per label instructions. No weeds should make seed.

Time of seeding:

Dormant fall seeding if drilled:  November 1 – February 15
Dormant fall seeding if broadcast:  November 1 – December 31

Note: broadcast seeding includes broadcast spreaders on ATVs or other rough terrain access vehicles, pulling the tubes to dribble the seed from grain drills and aerial application. Seeding should occur after the soil temperature 2 inches below the surface has remained at or below 40° F.

Seeding operation:

The goal of the seeding operation is uniform seed dispersal and proper seed placement to ensure seed-soil contact. It is critical to match the seeding operation to the seedbed conditions and the seed mixture. Check seedbed conditions at seeding time. Verify seed placement at the beginning of the seeding operation, and adjust as necessary during the seeding operation when the seedbed conditions change.

Broadcast seeding (aerial or broadcast seeder on ATV or other vehicle) or use of a rangeland drill is likely the best option for seeding — depends on amount of surface rock.

Request certified seed.  This will ensure there is no weed seed in the mix. The addition of a forb or legume may be advised, though this may limit options for noxious weed control.

Post-seeding stand establishment.  The seeded treatment area should be rested one complete year and deferred the second year until seed-shatter of the seeded bunch grasses. This is generally about the middle of July for north-central Washington in the shrub-steppe zone.

Basic Native Species Mix:

Cover Type

Species Selected

Seeding Rate   (lbs/ac PLS)

Grass Species Snake River wheatgrass (Secar or Discovery varieties).  If these are not available then look for Whitmar variety.  It does well on courser soils and is very drought tolerant.


Thickspike wheatgrass (Schwendimar or Bannock varieties)


Bluebunch wheatgrass (Anatone variety)


Idaho fescue (Nezpurs, Winchester, or Joseph varieties)


Big bluegrass (Sherman variety)


Sandberg bluegrass (locally sourced within 200 miles north to south, 500 miles to the east, and elevations below 3,000 feet)


Forb/Legume Species (Optional) Blue flax


Ladak alfalfa


TOTAL NON-SHRUB SEEDING RATE (95% of treated acres)


Grass Species
(Wet Areas)
Basin wildrye (Magnar variety) seed in wet areas as needed.  Replace 1 lb. each of Snake River Wheatgrass and Thickspike Wheatgrass and substitute Basin Wildrye.




Introduced Grass Seeding Mix*: 

Cover Type Species Selected Seeding Rate   (lbs/ac PLS)
Grass Species Crested/Siberian wheatgrass (Nordan, CD II, Vavilov I or II, or Hycrest varieties)


Tall wheatgrass (Jose, Largo, or Alkar varieties)


Sheep fescue (Covar variety)


Sandberg bluegrass (locally sourced within 200 miles north to south, 500 miles to the east, and elevations below 3,000 feet)




Grass Species (Wet Areas) Basin wildrye (Magnar variety)  seed in wet areas as needed.  Replace 1 lb. Tall Wheatgrass and add 2 lbs. Basin Wildrye for total of 10.0 pounds/acre/PLS.


* If seeding in areas that may also have good stands of native grass species and it will be grazed together you will end up with a palatability difference between the native and the introduced species and the livestock will select for this.

Post-plant weed control:

  1. All noxious weeds will be controlled.
  2. All troublesome weeds that threaten the stand will be controlled.
  3. Herbicides may be used on grass-only mixtures. Use on stands where weed competition is threatening the desirable perennial plant species. Herbicides must be applied in accordance with the label directions. Follow the label directions and heed all precautions listed on the label. Check state and local regulations and consult your Cooperative Extension Service county agent or local pesticide dealer representative to be sure your intended use is still registered. Participants may be required to replant, without cost-share, any desirable species that are destroyed.
  4. Consider spot spraying to minimize risks.
  5. Timely and effective weed control is critical to ensure a successful establishment of desirable species.


Broadcast spreaders

Broadcast spreaders are one of the best methods of uniform seed dispersal with diverse seed mixtures. This type of seeding operation requires a clean and furrowed or ridged seedbed. With loose seedbeds, create furrows or ridges before broadcasting. Do not broadcast on a firm, flat seedbed.  Broadcast seeding is not applicable on seedbeds with high residue.

Broadcast spreaders should be used for seeding only in November or December. Seedings in February or later should be accomplished with a different seeding method.

Aerial broadcasting often results in skips and seed separation due to different seed sizes and weight. With aerial broadcasting the seeding rate must be doubled.


USDA-NRCS recommends that any new seedings have two full growing seasons without any grazing to allow establishment of the grass plants.  If they are grazed when too young, they can be pulled out easily by grazing livestock, and grazing reduces the plants’ ability to develop a healthy root system that promotes a healthy and vigorous plant.  A healthy and vigorous stand of desired perennial grasses greatly helps to reduce the potential for invasion by undesirable and noxious weeds.

The first grazing could occur any time after July 15 of the second growing season after seeding. Proper grazing (take half, leave half) of the desirable bunch grass plants should be managed to allow the stand to maintain its health and vigor.