It is better to choose a blend of grasses and wildflowers rather than a single species. Companies that provide regional blends include Sharp Brothers, Stock Seed and Wildseed Farms.
These plants do not take root and grow well in areas that already have established plants. Existing vegetation should be killed before seeding. Follow the following steps to increase the chances of success.
- Control perennial weeds by using a product containing glyphosate.
- Using glyphosate the fall before planting makes soil preparation easier the following spring
- Adjust pH and fertilize according to soil test before planting.
- The seedbed should be firm so that a boot heel sinks in no more than ½ inch.
- The goal is good seed/soil contact.
- Can mix seed with damp sand (4:1 sand/seed) for more uniform coverage with a drop seeder or whirlybird spreader.
- The seed should be raked in about 1/4" deep. It is best if the seedbed is firmed up by using roller or driving over the area with a riding lawn mower. Don’t mulch.
- Keep seed moist while the seed is germinating (3 to 4 times per week, if possible). Slowly back off watering as plants develop.
What about planting dates? Warm-season grasses and most prairie flowers should be seeded between April 1 and May 15. To control any remaining living vegetation, spray with a product containing glyphosate, wait a week and plant. Make sure the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees before planting. Soil thermometers are often available in garden centers, hardware stores and auto stores (they are used to test air temperatures from air conditioners as well as in gardens).
Hand weeding can help but must be done with care to avoid uprooting small prairie flowers. Mowing as high as possible can help control fast growing weeds while preserving most of the foliage on the prairie flower. (Ward Upham)