How to Plant Native Prairie
Updated: Sep 30
Wondering how to transform your land into beautiful native prairie? The Scott SWCD hosted a webinar on July 23 to explain just that! Look below to view the recorded educational webinar.
If you're looking to start a native prairie project on your property, there's a couple places you can start.
Creating small gardens
This option is the most accessible to urban residents. Smaller gardens can be done at any size suitable for the property. native plants can be planted around mailboxes, or a sunny spot in a backyard.
The first step is to kill whatever existing vegetation is present. Most typically in this situation, the existing vegetation will be turf grass. This can be done by covering grass with tarp, ripping it out with a sod cutter, or using an herbicide.
Once the existing vegetation is gone, find a local plant or seed provider and start shopping! Our office can provide you local seed dealers and nurseries that supply Minnesota Native species. Additionally, the Scott SWCD hosts a native plant sale every spring. Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.
Once you've acquired your plants, time to start gardening. Plant native seeds or plugs between May 15th and June 30th for best results. If you want to do a fall seeding, plant your seeds after November 1st.
Converting Terf Lawns
Converting entire lawns to native prairie is very similar to the process of planting a small garden. The process is expanded by however large the planting area is. Existing vegetation must be removed; using herbicide or tillage is recommended for larger sites. Seeding is the typical method for lawn conversion, being done either in early spring (May 15th - June 30th seeding window) or late fall (seeding after November 1st).
For spring seeding, weeds will need to be clipped throughout the summer, and for fall seedings, weeds will need to be clipped before they go to seed the next year.
For larger plots, its helpful to rent seeding and tilling equipment to aid in the process.
The Scott SWCD has an equipment for rent as well as services for hire. Technicians will aid in the existing vegetation removal as well as the seeding process.
Converting existing cropland into native prairie is one of the easier methods. there is little to no site preparation necessary since seeding can be done around crop harvest. A unique consideration with cropland conversion is herbicide use. Some herbicides hinder new seedings and should be avoided when planning plantings. SWCD technicians can work with you to help develop a plan.
Once a plan is started and the site is prepped and ready, seeds can be purchased. For spring seeding, purchase in early spring and plant between the May 15th - June 30th seeding window. For fall seeding, purchase seed in the summer/early fall and plant after November 1st. Planting can be done with the No Till Drill from the SWCD and technicians can be contracted to help seed.
Ultimately, whatever techniques you use, converting your property into native prairie will provide essential pollinator habitat, improve local water quality, and provide beauty and color for years and years to come.
Our office provides technical assistance to landowners interested in converting land to prairie. If you have a project you want to get started, give our office a call!
Video not working? Link to youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sfg1FbEzuU&t=79s