The first step involves establishing the model. Is the restoration going to be a prairie, woodland, wetland or savanna? Site conditions must be evaluated to determine the native plant community that best fits, after which a planting can be designed around appropriate species and existing conditions.
Installation strategies vary but one thing is always key - elimination of exotic species before planting begins. Proper site preparation is essential and often spraying is the most viable and practical option. Another key to success are the materials selected for the restoration project. High quality plants and seeds of local origin (within 200 miles) are imperative. Timing of the planting is insignificant if the site is well-prepared and plants and seeds are high quality.
Finally, a follow-up management plan is necessary. Small gardens will likely require hand weeding, while large plantings may need mowing or burning to achieve success. Large projects usually require equipment to accomplish these tasks.
Perhaps nothing is more important than understanding the need for patience! Native plant communities take time to get established. The plants develop roots faster than leaves and stalks and that often takes more than one growing season. If you’re seeking instant gratification you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed, but if you exercise patience you will be rewarded over and over for many years to come.
Please enjoy this article on "Guidelines for Establishing a Prairie"
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