How I cultivated a prairie'ish meadow in Oklahoma

dbarron(z7_Arkansas)July 18, 2014

Someone suggested I might post this, so let me basically summarize. I bought a house and land in 1999 and lived there till 2012. During that time I rehabilitated what had been a mowed yard for 10 years back into a grassland with grasses and a variety of forbs. My methodology (the lazy/quick way) is in the article which I wrote for the Arkansas Native Plant Society's journal. I won't say it's the best way, but it worked for me...I was terribly surprised what plants naturally reoccurred from the seedbank or from bird drop perhaps...besides what I plugged in.
I hope you enjoy the article.

Here is a link that might be useful: Prairie Recovery brief article

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Danny, I finally had some time to sit and read your article and view the photos. I thought it was well written and the photos are great.

Really? Plants shading out the bermuda? I would be afraid the bermuda would choke out plants but thinking about it, I have often seen thug weeds choke it out and overcome it in peoples lawns to their chagrin, the park up the street is being overcome by the dreaded Dallis Grass replacing bermuda so it does make sense that some good tough prairie grasses could do serious battle against it. I always wonder if among all those weed seeds you would bring up by tilling would also contain some long dormant treasures. Maybe setting small plants in your meadow lodged a few desirable seeds up to the surface and they finally germinated?

Interestingly, I have had several volunteers of prairie clover and purple wine cups but nature has yet to drop so many surprises from the sky as you reported. I did find some variations like an unusual butterscotch colored Mexican hat volunteered this year when all I have ever planted was the deep burgundy kind and some nearly solid red plains coreopsis from.....somewhere? Only the very edges of the flowers showed any yellow. I love the surprises.

Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading the article.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:03AM
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Yeah, really Bermuda doesn't like shade at all...and esp shaded ground early in the year, really delays it and reduces vigor. Even last years growth of Big BlueStem put a damper on the bermuda enthusiasm. I won't say it ever died out..but it was very occassional and wispy.
I never tilled...knowing that would be a disaster in weeds.
The land had only been mowed for ten or less years from being a mostly untouched prairie savannah out in the country. I got lucky as ever year brought surprises.
A major difference between your environ and mine was that mine was a wet meadow with crayfish burrows (lol) and crayfish frogs, tons of sedges in part of the meadow.
I had all sorts of rudbeckia hirta show up....from cross contamination from the cultivated ones I'm sure.

I had a lovely mix (from seeds I collected along roadside) of indian blanket. From solid reds to almost solid yellows, and height ranging from 6 inches to 3-4 feet. That's obviously some genetic impurity between pulchra and aristata, both of which occur within the county.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:19AM
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A big chunk of my work involves assisting our two stormwater engineers in managing the vegetation around our many ponds and streams/channels. One of these individuals has often expressed alarm when viewing an area heavy with such non-native, tough weeds like red clover and Alsike clover. Now we do need to mobilize when the tall stuff, things like sweet clover, gain an upper hand, but for these relatively shorter clover types, I always advise patience as eventually, the taller prairie species will gain the upper hand if by no other means than shading out the clovers. It's rather amazing to watch how well this works, albeit it's not an instant solution, like some folks seem to want.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2014 at 9:54AM
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