Site Preparation for Planting a Pollinator Meadow
In addition to landscaping the flower beds, we will be designating some of the areas as native pollinator meadows on our property. These pollinator meadow plantings are a great way for us to increase food for the pollinators, reduce the area we mow frequently and create a beautified property.
Since this area is in existing vegetation with some undesirable species, we must begin with site prep. First step is to manage vegetation with the following options: herbicide, tillage, or smothering with plastic.
1) Herbicide- is least time intensive approach. Typically best in the spring, when vegetation is just starting to grow. In the spring when vegetation is 6" high, use one application of approved herbicide and follow with a second application in two or three weeks. Also, there are some organic herbicide options to consider. One is horticulture 30% vinegar. This can be as effective as glyphosate, however typically requires three to five applications throughout the year. Another organic labeled herbicide is called GreenMatch. Research products and apply according to directions on the label EVERY time you are using a herbicide.
2) Tillage- recommended tillage is discing the area every two to four weeks for a month. This will expose the roots of perennials and promotes germination of the established seed bank in the soil. After vegetation is destroyed, create a level seed bed prior to planting.
3) Smothering with plastic- lay thick plastic over tilled or untilled soils. Cover the edges of the plastic with soil or bricks to hold down the plastic. This process can take a long time and best to be completed in the spring for a fall planting. The black plastic will burn existing vegetation and seed bank.
After the vegetation is managed, then it's time to make sure the soil is suitable for establishing the planned crop. The best method to know your soil is by completing a soil test. This will tell you any nutrient needs or amendments needed for your soil. Creating prime soil conditions will ensure your seeds get a good start and provide a strong foundation to the new planting.
This may seem like a lot of prep work, but it will pay off! Good preparation will provide a long time healthy meadow benefit.