My Prairie Lawn in Oklahoma

TexasRanger10(7)June 6, 2014

Just wanted to share a shot I took today of my little urban prairie. Its a work in progress going on its 6th year. I've never regretted taking out the bermuda grass lawn. I added quite a few new plants this year and am adding more fringed sage in this area. I took out Little Bluestem 'The Blues' which was too bushy and floppy and am growing Little Bluestem 'Blue Heaven' which I have coming up in the back as replacements, they are much more upright and get very purple in fall. My favorite prairie grasses are the Sideoats Grama there by the sidewalk and Blue Grama.

The Lazy Daisy white flowers are new and will naturalize well, nice because they are very low growing and bloom continuously. Other season long bloomers are Pink Flameflowers, Gaillardia, Hairy Golden Aster, Desert Marigolds and Tahoka Daisy, they are all nice heights and have naturalized well.

To the left is Rabbit Bush, Dalea greggi, Flame Acanthus & Lantana. The shrub on the upper right is Green Mormon Tea.

I don't know why it is but this Desert Willow has very fragrant leaves. You can smell it all over the yard.

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TexasRanger10(7)

I love this combination. Fringed Sage with Purple Prairie Clover. The fringed sage is a great component and works for me here where I found we get a bit too much rain for Big Sage. I'm adding a lot more Artemisia ludoviana too, I love the silver plants.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 4:52AM
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TexasRanger10(7)

From a different perspective.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 5:35AM
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adidas(6/7)

Wow!!!! I LOVE it!!! So much more exciting than the dull lawns of your neighbors! Do you have any sedges in there? Did you grow any of this from seed? I am trying to grow some sideoats grama but it's awfully slow going! I love the little tufts of grass peaking through the cracks in the sidewalk....get rid of that sidewalk :)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 6:19PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

adidas I grow nearly everything from seed or trades because sources for many plants are non existent here. The Sideoats grass takes off the second year but thats true for most of the grasses. I found it really looks best in full sun because its so stiff and vertical. In areas with part sun Bluestem looks better, the Sideoats looks more mounding and rather plain.

Most of the plants have naturalized but I did purchase quite a few seed varieties from Plants of the Southwest, they've come back or multiplied each year. I collect seeds from wild plants too and just sort of keep my eyes open for anything interesting. Its fun to keep adding new things, sometimes I will see a native sold in a nursery.

I bought Bluestem grass from Santa Rosa gardens, they have a good selection of native grasses. 7 plants of two different types quickly multiplied. I liked the way it looked more so than the local Bluestem which was taller and greener when I transplanted a few here. I also got 3 types of Switchgrass which are in the back of the property.

One I haven't tried but should is Prairie Dropseed. I've got muhly grasses and stipa which also work in nice. I've only got one kind of sedge & have no idea what kind, I found them growing by a housing project and dug up a couple starts for a shady area, its plain green.

I did both the front and back. Here is what it looked like in the beginning after removing the existing grass and shrubs.

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Fri, Jun 6, 14 at 23:00

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 10:57PM
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adidas(6/7)

You have done so much in 6 yrs! Maybe a silly ? but do you find more wildlife in your yard now? Birds after seed? Butterflies? I hope that you are an inspiration to your neighbours! Just imagine if everyone there were to get rid off their bermuda grass! I have a meadowish part to my property but this meadow is very wet and rocky and anything that comes up beyond orchard grass is quickly consumed by critters. You have inspired me to wintersow some more grass species! By the way sedges may look dull green but they have the most unusual influorescences!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 3:03PM
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TexasRanger10(7)

I've seen some really nice colored sedges, especially the reddish brown ones and some light colored ones. I'm real dry here so I'm afraid they'd fry or need a lot of watering because most seem to require moist soil. I'm not opposed to adding some non natives and there's some Australian species that are downright gorgeous. I've seen it used as a grass substitute in lawns, I think its Pennsylvania thats used. John Greenlee has that book on grasses and prairies and he uses it a lot. I think eastern Oklahoma where its wetter has more sedges, I thought I was seeing that from the car going 70mph anyway. Very pretty.

I get lots of butterflies when they are around. Last fall was heavy but this spring they've been pretty sparse. I have lots of toads but no lizards. I almost hate to admit this but I don't keep a birdbath or water source for birds but I do get them pecking around on the ground more. I see a lot more dragonflies and I especially noticed more hummingbirds and keep adding plants they like.

Grasses are the ingredient that ties it all together. I added them in late but noticed the difference in the overall feel & look right away. I especially love them in fall and winter when they catch the sunlight and become the star performers. Its also nice to see them in them moving in the wind, I find it hypnotic to watch so I just sit and stare sometimes and pretend I'm in the country.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:27PM
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idahocactus

I am not familiar with Desert Willow having fragrant leaves. Are you sure this is a desert willow? Desert willow [chilopsis] is native to parts of Oklahoma. The flowers are fragrant especially in the heat of summer. I have attached a photo of one of the varieties of this tree.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2015 at 11:52AM
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texasranger2

Idaho...I'm absolutely sure. It took me some time to pin down where the smell was coming from but the leaves are unbelievably fragrant, several people walking by our house to the park up the street have commented on it. I have no idea what kind it is, it was purchased on super sale with a lot of unmarked, damaged plants here locally. The fancier types had fragrant flowers, mine don't seem to have any smell but the leaves...!! Last year I trimmed several lower branches, the trash can smelled heavenly.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 4:29PM
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idahocactus

That is very interesting. I had not heard of fragrant leaves on a desert willow. There are several varieties of this in Texas also. Good luck with the plant.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 8:21PM
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wisconsitom

Simply wonderful, TR. Just as in your area, I wish when I was down in S. Florida, more folks would get the idea that native (or native-ish) landscaping can be highly pleasing visually, let alone all the other benefits. I only mention Florida because I get down there most years for a spell and the pace of development there is such that actual native plant communities are being decimated, all the while their replacement is usually extremely bland and non-inspiring lawns with minimal additional plantings, and which are mostly non-native and require irrigation. In S. Florida, commercial and residential irrigation is the single biggest user of water, and this in a region in which the human population is pumping the aquifers dry.

Here in Wisconsin, there is much opportunity for the same sorts of planting schemes as well. Great job!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 6:57AM
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texasranger2

wiscomitom, around here there is not a lot of appreciation for the native landscape. What I mean is a section or area of grassland prairie is usually viewed as having 'nothing out there'. Its not a visually dramatic landscape like forest, mountains etc --- what people perceive as a beautiful view. When the city develops they build the structure, put in concrete roads, parking lot and such but they also dig out or kill off the surrounding native grasses such as big bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama etc along with various types of milkweed, Maximillian sunflower and other types of sunflowers along with various other native species which are actually attractive and offer nice seasonal changes. Instead of leaving that, they square the remainder of the area off into bermuda grass which is then regularly sprayed with chemicals and mowed which ends up as a boring square of deep green sitting in the prairie. I'm sure you are familiar with what I'm talking about. I'm not just referring to housing additions, its large places like tech schools and business where it would be less expensive and actually more attractive left as original prairie. You'd think maintenance cost would factor in even if they can't appreciate the prairie.

I'm close to downtown and have chosen to bring the prairie into the city. A complete opposite view but I am in a very teeny tiny minority of homeowners who is doing anything like that here (I only know of 3 others in the entire city). Thankfully its coming around and the state buildings, many street medians, businesses and the downtown area is being replanted in native grasses used as decorative bedding plants, all professionally planned out and arranged. It looks rather sophisticated and modern actually, sort of cutting edge in fact.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 1:21PM
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wisconsitom

Yup Tex, I do indeed know exactly whereof you speak. And likewise here, or at my other favorite place-S. Florida. Maybe down there especially, so much good could be done if people would just wake up to the beauty and utility of native plants and plant communities. And thereetoo, some few folks do get it, but not nearly enough.

I like the blue-green glaucus stuff too. Our fall weather tends toward wetness and cold, and wouldn't you know it, that's exactly the combo of conditions which take out so many of the drought-tolerant and gray-green leaved stuff. I've been pleasantly surprised though at how well lavender can do here. Not always and not everywhere, but the cultivar 'Munstead' has managed to grow to considerable size for me. We cut it down about half-way in spring and that seems to suit it well.

Again, great job!

+oM

    Bookmark   February 16, 2015 at 6:13AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I love, love, love your yard! I'm also encouraged to know that you have been working on it for 6 years. My yard is shady, except for a strip along the road, which I have converted from lawn to mostly native perennial flowers. Like you, I've grown almost everything from seed, so it's slow getting things established. I haven't planted any native grasses yet, because I need to keep most plants low to the ground to avoid blocking people's view of the road for safety. I did try Prairie Dropseed, but it didn't germinate for me. Your yard is an inspiration. The fact that you have so many toads is an indicator that you must have tons of insects. Otherwise, they couldn't survive. There is so much in nature that goes on without our seeing it. I wish people could understand what a huge difference even small changes can make. And anyone can have a huge impact. We just need to keep talking about it. Keep up the good work. And thanks for the invitation to come over to this forum. I'm headed over to the native plants forum next.

Martha

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 7:22AM
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texasranger2

Docmom, P. Dropseed seeds need cold stratification, its one of the few grasses like that and its notoriously slow to get established. Buying plants is the best way so I wouldn't count that particular failure as average. Some grass seed I've tried are very difficult and I'm lucky to get one plant out of 200 seeds in a couple cases.

I wish I could take credit for the toads but they were here when we bought the house back in the 1980's along with a lot of big sandstone rocks. Toads love hidey-holes and the rocks attract them. The insects are a given especially since june bugs, who love to invade lawns by the hundreds, provide the equivalent of a turkey dinner + dessert every night as they sit in their chosen spots not moving much, just getting what flies by in one small hop. Needless to say, the toads all look like buddha statues and they move just about as much-- very fat, lazy and happy. Interestingly, since we took out the lawn the toad population has decreased some. I wonder if its the lack of june bug slugs eating grassroots? I'm not quite sure but toads are sort of like big garbage disposals, they eat tree locusts too and thats a sight to see. A toad with big wings sticking out the sides of the mouth as they digest this huge big with their eyeballs rolled back in their sockets, its kind of creepy looking. They don't drink water either.

Thank you for the compliments. Shady areas are difficult for me, they are usually dry due to tree roots so I'm constantly either cursing or trying to work things in.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2015 at 1:49PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Texas ranger, your yard is really impressive and a pleasure to see.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2015 at 3:34AM
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texasranger2

Thanks laceyvail. I spent yesterday cutting grasses down to the ground getting ready for spring, it looks very bleak and scalped right now. I put it off as long as possible.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2015 at 4:18PM
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