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Regular site inspection and monitoring
During the first 6 to 12 months of a seeding project, it may be
difficult to differentiate between the germinated native seed and
undesirable weeds. Although some wildflower and grass species
will be recognizable within the first year, it may take 2 to 4 years
before the native plant community is sufficiently established to be
recognized by most people. During this establishment period, address
any invasive species that subsequently appear on site, to prevent them
from becoming a larger problem later. Cardno inspects project areas
throughout each growing season to gauge native plant density and
composition, and manage undesirable weeds.
During the establishment period, native plants concentrate their
energy toward expanding their root systems. Mowing can suppress
non-native annual plants without negatively affecting natives. Mowing
also thins out the canopy, allowing more light to reach new seedlings.
Because most weed competition comes from fast-growing annuals,
mowing needs to occur to keep these species from re-seeding. Cardno
recommends mowing to between 8 and 10 inches high. During the first
growing season, our team performs 1 to 3 mowing events, depending
on the height and growth of the vegetation. If weed pressure is high,
more mowing events may be needed.
Selective herbicide application
Many perennial weed species are best controlled through
chemical applications. Cardno’s trained herbicide application
staff uses caution when applying these chemicals, to minimize
collateral damage to desirable plant species. Cardno staff has the
qualifications to ensure chemical selection, rates, and application
methods are legal and appropriate.
Overseeding and supplemental planting
Most native species grow slowly from seed, making it difficult to
assess the development of a recently seeded site. Supplemental
plantings are often used to increase diversity or to introduce
conservative species to an established planting. Cardno can determine
the need for overseeding or supplemental planting, typically by the
second growing season following installation.
Water control and temporary irrigation
In periods of drought, small native areas will benefit from irrigation,
especially during the first growing season. Typically, 1 inch of water
per week is sufficient to encourage proper germination and growth.
Weed pressure will increase with supplemental watering, which may
then require more frequent mowing or herbicide application.
Controlled burns can be important to long-term prairie maintenance.
Burning simulates historical processes that once maintained prairies. It
greatly reduces the number of woody species and enhances the health
of herbaceous species. It also clears thatch, making way for new
growth in the spring. The black, burned surface absorbs and retains
heat, giving natives an early start in the spring. Cardno has a team of
personnel trained in fire management techniques and safety, ready
with the proper equipment to conduct burns.
Creating a Native Landscape