MNL's Seeding guide for hand-seeding of native restoration projects
Thank you so much for choosing native plants! We take pride in providing some of the finest, local origin, native seed. In your seed order, you may find two or three separate bags of seed.
- Orders less than 1/2 acre will include pre-mixed grasses, flowers, and a cover crop (all pre-mixed)
- Orders larger than 1/2 acre in size will have grasses and forbs packaged separately (bags 1&2) and a cover crop (bag 3)
For hand broadcast seeding of sites smaller than 1/2 acre: Prepare soil bed prior to seeding by /removing existing vegetation, and lightly raking the soil surface. Hand mix the seed in the bag, and stir regularly throughout the seeding process to maintain a well-balanced seed mixture. Split the seed in half and spread one half evenly over entire project area, then go over the area again spreading the second half of the seed mixture – to ensure full coverage. For first year erosion control and weed management, a cover crop of oats, or winter wheat has been added to the native seed mix. This seed provides temporary cover while the native species are working on establishing their deep and complex root systems. Seed can be lightly raked into the soil surface, take care not to plant too deep.
For larger sites: Installation with a native seed drill is recommended. If not planning to install via drill, follow hand broadcast recommendations above.
What to expect:
First year growth of native vegetation is minimal. Routine cutting (to a height of 6-8 inches) of the site helps provide light to the soil surface and young native seedlings. The provided cover crop will offer much of the above ground growth of year 1. Consider cutting with a weed whip once vegetation is 2 feet tall or if small flowering plants appear in the weeks following seeding.
During the second year of establishment, native species tend to appear slowly and may remain small in stature. Vegetation maintenance is crucial during these early years to outcompete weedy vegetation, keep watching for undesirable weeds.
By the third growing season, most native species are maturing and can begin to compete with non-desirable, weedy, vegetation. It is during the third year that the true diversity of the planting area will be obvious, and various blooms can be noted throughout the growing season.
First Year Seeding: Cover crop growth, site mowed or weed whipped once height reaches 18-24 inches, to manage undesirable vegetation. Avoid letting weeds flower long enough to set seed. Site may have overall “weedy” appearance.
Second Year Seeding:
Small cool season grasses and early successional flowers appear on site – such as Black-eyed Susans. Site is often cut early in the growing season, then monitored and weedy growth is managed selectively.
Third Year Seeding: A diverse mix of grasses and flowers appear on site creating a typical prairie mosaic. Site requires more minimal, selective maintenance.