Just Throw Down Some Native Seed

Native seeding has been a buzz word in the landscape business for a few years now. More and more people are learning the environmental benefits of prairie restoration.

Reducing run off, habitat, sustainability, invasive species control are all benefits of establishing native plantings but it is important to keep in mind that it is not a small order.

I can’t count the number of times customers or builders have said to me, “just through some prairie seed down in this area and it will be fine”. The process is much more involved and can take significant time.

The first step is to mow and kill any existing weeds. A chopper or flail mower is often required to knock down existing weeds and invasive grasses. After the weeds or down tilling the soil is a good idea.

Now it’s time to wait. After giving the area enough time for weeds to germinate and grow to no more than 12” tall herbicide should be applied. After several more weeks to a month a second application of herbicide is to be applied to kill any of the last remaining weeds.

After all of this it is finally time to apply the native seed.

This begs the question, will there be a field full of wildflowers in a short time? Not exactly!

Some of the more aggressive flowers like Rudbeckia will bloom by the end of the first year or after the first winter but the majority of the flowers will take two to three years to establish themselves. During the first year or two it is also a good idea to mow the area a couple of times to help kill the last remaining invasive species that may be growing.

So as you can see, there is more to it than “just through down some native seed”. This by no means should discourage anyone from taking on this noble deed, but just be ready to give the project some time.


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