• Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

    Mississippi

    National River & Recreation Area Minnesota

Preparing Your Site

A plan is an important part of planting your own prairie. A written plan, with a schedule that you can follow will be helpful. Keeping a written record of your own or your contractor’s activities is a good way to keep track of how your prairie is progressing.
Draw a map of your site, including any special features such as streams, buildings, roads, or fences. Also map what borders your site and any variations of slope or soil type which might affect the type of seeds you plant. As the prairie matures, it will come in handy to note changes that occur. It’s also a lot of fun to see how your prairie has matured and changed over the years!

Getting Seeds

After deciding where you want to have a prairie and evaluating the conditions of your site, it is time to buy seeds and plants. When starting out, there are two important points to consider: choosing the right types of plants and planting as many different plants as possible. The plants you choose must be well suited to the site in order for them to thrive. If you have an especially dry site, choose plants that are adapted to those conditions. The more diverse your prairie, the more healthy and successful it will be, so plant as many different species of plants as you can. As time goes on, you can add more species, but the more types of plants you can initially grow, the better. Many typical prairie plants and their characteristics are here.

When buying seed, be careful to avoid mixes that contain weed seed, straw, or non-native species. To ensure that you buy good quality seeds, go to a seed supplier who measures the seed by weight or percentage of Pure Live Seed (PLS). Pure Live Seed is a measure of how many of the seeds can be expected to germinate. Check content and viability ratings of the seeds so that you will know exactly what you are getting.
When looking at which seeds to buy, make sure that the scientific, or Latin names, are included. Common names are often different between areas, and sometimes the same name refers to two different species, one of which may be a pest.
In order to protect your local wildlife areas; buy locally grown seeds so that you don’t introduce any non-native species. Also make sure that the seeds are grown in a native plant nursery so that wild areas aren’t stripped of their seeds. The general rule is that seeds should originate within 40 miles of your site.

Did You Know?

Canoeists in the Mississippi River Gorge

A canoe trip in the Mississippi River Gorge between Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN feels like you are miles away from civilization even though you are in the center of a large metropolitan area.