Site prep is key!
The success of any new seeding is dependent upon the condition of the seedbed. A clean, weed-free seedbed is critical for success. Below is a guideline for preparing the seedbed for your pollinator garden:
The Ideal seedbed is uniformly firm, has soil moisture near the surface, is free of competing vegetation and has light mulch or straw to prevent soil erosion.
Things to Consider before Planting
- Site prep, site prep, site prep!
- Consider the soil characteristics, site drainage, sunlight, and other factors when selecting plants.
- Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators and is also easier to weed!
- Plant where you are going to see the plot so you remember to weed and water your planting during establishment!
- Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season.
- Avoid the use of pesticides. Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce damage to your plants and to protect pollinators.
- Pollinators need water, too! You can provide water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches
Control Existing Vegetation
While the use of herbicides should be minimized on Pollinator Plantings after seeding, completely terminating the existing vegetation prior to panting is extremely important to the success of native flower plantings. A broad-spectrum herbicide can be used to kill all actively growing vegetation. Tillage can then be used to break the sod and prepare the seedbed. Mowing and/or burning can remove standing dead vegetation. A combination of herbicide and tillage is the most effective means of preparing the seedbed. However, if you choose not to use herbicide, more tillage and/or other methods will be required. Solarization may also be an effective, passive way to terminate existing plots, but will take 6months to a year. (See video below for more information on Solarization)
In the first 2-3 years, water and control weeds and competition in your plot. Native flower plantings are not aggressive or competitive so it is essential to maintain a weed free and watered plot while the plants establish. You can control weeds by mowing, hand-pulling and/or with careful herbicide use.