WHAT IS NATIVE PRAIRIE?
Native prairie is a type of habitat containing an abundance of species including grasses, forbs, and sedges. These areas are critical habitat for many species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects including pollinators. Most of the original prairie areas of the Midwestern United States have been altered for agricultural production. We owe our most productive soils to thousands of years of prairie development.
WHY IS PRAIRIE SO GOOD FOR THE SOIL?
Prairie species are very different from weed species. They are perennial, meaning they come back year after year. A single prairie plant can develop long and complicated root system that can reach depths of over 25 feet into the earth. Because of these incredible root networks, prairie can create healthy soil structure, withstand intense drought and pull nutrients and minerals from deep below the surface. As plants finish their life cycle and new ones take their place, they become organic matter and add to the healthy soils they once lived upon. Additionally, prairie areas keep soil covered year-round, they shield the soil from intense heat and rain events, occurrences that are becoming more and more common amidst global climate change.
WHO CAN INSTALL PRAIRIE?
Anyone can install prairie! This beautiful and diverse habitat is suited for backyards, fallow fields, or productive field borders and pivot corners. All soil types are suitable, as there are hundreds of prairie species out there, all with their own preferred growing conditions.
Prairie takes a three-year period to reach full maturity. Initially, a site will need to be prepped by removing present weeds and weed seed. The best times to plant prairie is late fall or early spring. Prairie can be planted a number of ways including mature plugs, broadcasting seed, or drilling seed. Prairie does not need to be fertilized and usually can do without watering as well. Prairie will look a bit weedy in that first year of establishment but fear not. Those perennial prairie species are putting all of their energy into developing their roots, most of the weeds you will see are just annuals. By the second year, a prairie begins to take true form and an abundance of flowers will appear. By the third year, more and more species will begin to emerge, adding to the beauty and diversity of a planting. It doesn’t take long until the local wildlife begins to move in and enjoy their new home. A well-established prairie can last for decades with minimal management.
LOOKING TO INSTALL PRAIRIE?
Contact Rachael Whitehair to schedule a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (715) 421-8444.