Tips for Native Plant Gardeners

Overview of Installation and Maintenance

Wild Ones Prairie Edge Chapter has recently produced an excellent overview:

Matching Your Plants to Your Site

It is important to match species requirements with site features such as soil type, light conditions, moisture and drainage for the planting to be successful. Mesic (medium) soil types drain well but contain moisture all or most of the time. Clay soils will hold higher moisture levels and sandy soils are often drier as they will drain faster.  Some plants are more sensitive to conditions such as moisture and light, so it is best to match your conditions with those described for each plant or flat in the seller’s catalog.

Preparing Your Site

You can start now! Proper site preparation gives your plants a great head start. Removal of competitive weeds and grasses must be accomplished before planting begins. One option: cover the area with 4-6 layers of newspaper or cardboard to block out sunlight. Saturate the newspaper or cardboard with water to prevent it from blowing away, then apply clean shredded mulch. A few weeks later, after the newspaper or cardboard has softened, punch holes in it and insert your new plants.

Planting Your Native Seeds and Seedlings

Maintaining Your Native Garden

Many of the gardening practices we learned to take care of our yards and gardens are different from the best practices recommended for native gardens.  For example, we are encouraged to give up the practice of raking our leaves in the fall and spring and to hold off on cutting the plants down until April or May.  This article explains this in more detail:


Carmen Simonet’s Tips

In her presentation, Minneapolis Garden Design, Carmen mentioned a few resources.  One was the book Principles of Ecological Landscape Design by Travis Beck.  More information can be found here

She also mentioned some tools:  turf edgers and root barriers.  An example of a turf barrier can be seen here.  An example of root barriers can be found here.