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17

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.

Mowing

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.

Prescribed burning

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