Beach Grass – Ammophila breviligulata

Beach grass sorted and ready to ship
Beach grass sorted and ready to ship

Vans American Native Beach Grass is established on the shores of the lakes throughout the great lakes basin from Duluth Minnesota to Buffalo New York. When we first started transplanting beach grass in the 1950’s, we harvested the grass from dunes near the Lake Michigan shoreline.  As demand grew for grass we established our own field beds. We now have about 10 acres which we harvest on a 2 or 3 year cycle. Generally 2 growing seasons produces the quantity and quality of culms we need for our customers. The younger nursery plants are more vigorous and with better survival rates than the larger older mother plants. Because the younger plants also produce more daughter plants, they usually establish continuous coverage of the dune area sooner.

Overall nursery produced beach grass is more vigorous than those collected from old stands. Vans American Native Beach grass can be planted on the northern one half of the Atlantic coast and has been planted successfully on the Pacific NW coast. This green variety grows up to 3 feet high.

Vans ‘Cape’ American Beach Grass was selected out from natural stands on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The USDA, thru its plant materials center, managed by the NRCS at Cape May, New Jersey, spent many years developing the ‘Cape’ selection using the comparative observation evaluation process. After the testing and evaluation the selected grass was released to the public thru commercial nurseries under the name of ‘Cape” in recognition of its place of origin. We started propagating the ‘Cape’ selection in 1973 and got our starter ‘Cape’ plants from the Cape May plant material center. While the ‘Cape’ selection was specifically developed for the Atlantic coast from Maine to North Carolina it also grows vigorously in the Great Lakes basin.

This variety is blue-green and salt tolerant. A robust plant with a fast growth rate and rapid spread, this hefty plant reduces wind velocity near the ground – good for erosion control on low fertility, sandy soils.

Planting Season for Dune Grass

Fall is the best time: October 15 to soil freeze up

Spring is the 2nd best time: first thing in the spring till May 15th. (There is not a warranty beyond this date).

Generally we can harvest by October 15, however, if the weather is warm and dry we would delay until November 1st. It’s best if we get one or two frosts before fall harvest.

In Spring, the grass is dormant at harvest and all the life of the grass is in the root stolens. Blades of the grass usually emerge 3 to 4 weeks after planting. We will not warranty grass delivered after May 15 as June weather often is hot and dry. Always plant 10 inches or more deep so the grass can survive a dry, hot summer.

Planting Tips: For slopes, always plant from the top down so you do not have to walk through the planted grass.

If possible, plant immediately after a rain as wet sand will maintain the hole…dry sand fills it in.

Generally, Dune Grass does well without fertilizer, however, it can help early spring root growth. Broad Cast urea at 50-75lbs. actual Nitrogen per acre one time right after planting.

Spacing Guide                               Plant Spacing               Plants per 1,000 sq.ft.

High Erosion Areas                           6 in. x 6 in.                           4,000

Flat or moderate slopes                   12 in. x 12 in.                        1,000

Flat, NO wind or water erosion     18 in. x 18 in.                          500