Garden Tour Highlights Backyard Prairies
Claire Lane, Urban Conservationist
While planning, consider things like utilities, HOA covenants, and overall neighborhood aesthetic sensibilities. Backyard native plantings are a great opportunity to educate friends and neighbors on the beauty and function of native plants. The SWCD has signage available and little actions like keeping tidy borders and using a bench or birdhouse to show care for the area can help people see that your natives aren't "weeds" resulting from lack of care but actually a beautiful, tended home for pollinators and a sustainable choice for your yard!
Remember, a prairie isn't just something 'out there in a park somewhere' but quite possibly, literally, in your own backyard.
How to create your own backyard meadow:
Whether you have 10 square feet or 10 acres, replacing turf grass with native plants is a great way to reduce maintenance on ecologically sterile areas of your property and replace them with vibrant, diverse native plants that support pollinators, wildlife, water quality, our ecological heritage, and our ecosystem.
Consider the existing vegetation on your property as well as underground and above ground utilities, easements, invasive species and potential weed pressure. Use local resources such as your SWCD, INPS chapter and members, Master Gardeners, and Grow Indiana Native resources to guide planning and source quality seed and/or plants.
Terminate existing turfgrass
Seed/Plant - Mid-September - late November is a great time to seed natives. Fall plantings favor flowers and don't require watering.
March - April seeding favors grasses.
May - June seeding allows for more soil preparation and spring weed control but may require supplemental watering.
Maintain - Weed control during the first years is critical. Mowing will be necessary ~1x month the first year to combat annual weeds. Target noxious weeds with hand pulling or herbicide. More info is available here.
Enjoy - Consider certifying your garden through the Grow Indiana Native Program. It's free!
Seeds should be planted no more than 1/4 inch deep.
Need more info and details? Checkout the resources, guides, and links at hamiltonswcd.org/seedpack & IndianaNativePlants.org
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