Curly
Full Member
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

From lawn to wild flowers and grasses

I'm planning what to do with the former school yard we got along with our new home. The yard is still under snow right now, but when I saw it last summer, it was a pretty scrawnyl looking lawn, sprinkled generously with dandylions and large patches of bare dirt. Trampled down by many little feet over many, many years, I suppose.

Sooooo, my vision is to turn parts of it into a vegetable garden, add fruit trees and some shelterbelt trees and shrubs, as well as berry bushes. As far as the lawn is concerned, I imagine to keep some as regular lawn and other parts I would like to have growing with native grasses and wildflowers, like poppies, etc. to add color and interest. Something that we can mow maybe twice a year and otherwise looks after itself. I should mention that the lot (including buildings) is 160x300 feet, and this area once was original prairie.

I guess that leaves me with the question, how would you go about the lawn and grass parts of this plan? I harldy know where to start, it seems such a gigantic task. We have to keep costs down, and as you can imagine, I'm not looking to make this more work intensive than necessary. Neither right now, nor with future maintenance.

I looked through the search part and couldn't find anything about turning old lawn into native grassland. Do we need to slightly rip the surface and then reseed with grasses and flower seeds? Will they "take over' the former lawn? I can find posts about resurrecting an old lawn, though not specifically about replanting on hard packed clay soil.

Any of your thoughts would be valuable and of interest to me. Thanks.

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applestar
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Posts: 28040
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

No new thoughts. Brains' are fried today. :roll:
Here's a link to some THOROUGH old thoughts. Only way I could find it was looking for the names of people who posted to this thread, so I don't blame you for not finding it :wink: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9218

Curly
Full Member
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:02 pm
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada

Much information there, thanks! After reading most of it, I realize that this is more complicated than that I anticipated. This comment especially destroyed my little plan:

From a very frustrating experience - Make sure that for whichever method that you choose, the grass gets killed. Every bit of it. My soil preparation looked great, and so did the prairie area the first and second year. A little grass coming up here and there, but nothing to worry about, the prairie plants will overtake it; NOT!! My biggest mistake was assuming that turning over sod and burying it would kill it. It's difficult to put into words how frustrating it is in the later years when you realize that there is no way to remove that invasive grass from the established prairie plants and native grasses without seriously damaging the prairie area. All the time, effort and money wasted just makes me cringe.
So, if turning the sod doesn't work well, couldn't a person rent a sod cutter and completely remove it? Then spread some new top soil and reseed as desired. Seems like a logical solution to me, but these people who know a lot more about it than I do, never mentioned anything like it. Is that just too work intensive for a large area? I've never seen a sod cutter in action, but we do have a small tractor with a three point hitch. Will have to look into that. Hmmm...

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applestar
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Posts: 28040
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Try here: https://www.prairiemoon.com/planting_guidelines.php
They seem to know what they're talking about. I really like the info they provide on their website/catalog. They pre-chill seeds in spring, scarify for you, etc. Very thorough. 8) :D

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hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I bet John at easy wildflowers would have some ideas. He sales both plants and seeds. Seeds IMO would be a very inexpensive route. I found him to be friendly, cooperative and knowledgeable in response to my couple of brain picking telephone calls.

https://www.easywildflowers.com/

John Clinton
Easywildflowers
PO Box 522
Willow Springs, MO 65793

www.easywildflowers.com
john@easywildflowers.com
phone - 417-469-2611
Native Wildflower Seeds & Plants for Home Landscaping & Prairie Restorations.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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