A Four-Season Garden

As we persevere through the winter months, I am thankful February only has 28 days. This short month seems to go on and on.  If we could get past February, then spring is right around the corner. I know there is still plenty of winter left, but by March, things begin to change.

“Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, except for February, which is cold, so make it go quick.”

– adapted from an English nursery rhyme

That is not exactly how the saying goes, but as I look out my window this cold morning, I am thankful February is short. It also makes me aware of the importance of creating a garden that can be enjoyed even in winter. A four-season garden takes planning. Here are some ideas to think about that will make your landscape more robust and interesting in all seasons of the year:

Add a variety of plants

Typically, gardens are “one hit wonders”. They excel in spring or early summer, but fade the rest of the year. This is mostly because our gardens are heavily planted with early season bloomers and short on plants with late season interest. We choose plants to include in our gardens that are blooming in the gardens centers we visit and neglect grasses and late season perennials that are not blooming yet. A four-season garden incorporates diverse varieties with staggered bloom times and textural elements.

Summer Prairie Garden

Plants out of bloom

It is natural to first notice the blooms of perennials. We all want wildflowers that look beautiful in bloom and attract a bunch of different pollinators to our gardens. However, with a four-season garden, equal importance needs to be placed on plants as they emerge in spring or after they bloom. Do these plants have interesting forms, textures, seed heads and architecture that can be highlighted or emphasized? The secret to achieving a four-season border is selecting plants that continue to provide an attractive overall shape both before and after flowering.

Coneflower seed heads and little bluestem

Create layers

Plants live in communities. Within these natural communities, all the gaps are filled, from floor to canopy. Ground covers intertwine around larger perennials, which grow up to the under story trees and shrubs. Generally, taller trees provide the backdrop to your gardens, but the layered effect can be achieved with wildflowers, grasses and a few strategically placed shrubs. Planting in layers mimics the densely planted prairies or savannas we admire. Layering plants with differing heights, textures, forms, architecture and bark is attractive any season of the year.

Summer border. Photo by Brad Guhr

Do your home work

It takes time to learn what plants grow best in your landscape. Make a conscious effort to see the gaps in your garden. Plan to add elements that provide interest at times in the year that are weaker or sparser than desired. As always, match plants to your site conditions. Many plants have multiple seasons of interest besides when they are in bloom. Learn how to incorporate these perennials.

It’s not easy being brown

Each season has a unique beauty. Winter is often overlooked but the different hues of brown along with textural elements and architecture add interest to the landscape. These subtle foliar elements are great as they move with the wind or capture snow that falls. A few focal points that stand out in the stark winter landscape can make a difference in completing your four-season garden. 

Switchgrass with snow

Winter can seem long, but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy your garden.  Four seasons of interest and beauty can be just a few additional plants away.  I love to see the birds eating the seeds from the wildflowers outside my window.  The grasses moving with the wind are nice, too.  I know spring is coming, but for now, I appreciate what I see.

A Look at the Past, A Glimpse of the Future

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing some cleaning in my office.  It is a New Year’s resolution of sorts, but definitely needed.  I had mountains of papers that had not been looked through in quite some time.  Some of it was worth keeping, but most of it needed to be tossed. 

Through this purging, I was again reminded of how far the Arboretum has come.  Committee meeting notes, board meeting agendas, programming ideas, fundraising updates and past newsletters made for interesting reading about the Arboretum’s past and reminded me how it has continued to grow through the years.

The Vision

Harold and Evie Dyck wanted a place that reflected the Kansas landscape –  a prairie garden with gently rolling hills, walking trails, native plant displays for people to enjoy and stopping points along the way for quiet reflection.  The early mission statement: “The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains exists to foster an appreciation of the natural beauty of Kansas” , focused the development of the grounds and educational programs.  Steady progress was made in the first few decades after the first tree was planted in 1981.

First Tree (Bur Oak) planted on October 10, 1981
Aerial view of the Arboretum and the walking path around the pond , early 1980s
Picture of the island , early 1980s
Bald cypress near the bird watch area, early 1980s
Kansas Wildflower Exhibit and Prairie Shelter, 1990s
Island Planting in summer, 1990s
Harold and Elva Mae Dyck, early 2000s

A Living Prairie Museum

“No color photo or painting, no floral arrangement or pressed wildflower, nothing we take from nature can ever quite capture the beauty, the complexity or the ‘feel’ of nature itself.  The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains is a living prairie museum, affording each visitor a rare opportunity to experience this remarkable habitat firsthand, up-close and personal.”

“Within the space of these 13+ acres, you can traverse a prairie landscape…to see and learn about hundreds of different varieties of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses indigenous to this region.”  (Excerpt from an early Arboretum brochure.)


A New Mission for a Lasting Vision

“The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains cultivates transformative relationships between people and the land”.  Today, this mission not only refocuses our work on the interconnectedness of people and the land, but also recognizes that the bond we share with plants, animals, water and soil are constantly forming and transforming.  Whether caring for our own garden patch or visiting the awe-inspiring tallgrass prairie of the Flint Hills, being in nature changes us.

FloraKansas Native Plant Sale, 2014
Insect sweeping activity, Samplemania 2012

I believe Harold and Evie would be amazed at how far the Arboretum has come since those humble beginnings.  With the Visitor Center, Prairie Pavilion, and the new Prairie Discovery Lab, the Arboretum is able to reach even more people interested in learning about Kansas’ prairie landscape.  We are so grateful for their dedication to that original vision for this garden. 

An increasing number of people now see the importance of protecting the prairie.  Like Harold and Evie, they seek to understand, have empathy for, and connect with this unique landscape on a very personal level.  Their vision seems to have come full circle.

How to Increase the Value of Your Prairie Garden

Prairie gardens have become increasingly popular over the past ten years as homeowners and businesses seek to directly reverse the trend of prairie degradation.  Using prairie plants in the landscape is one way you can implement small-scale conservation and stewardship practices and become a part of a growing patchwork of prairie gardens in the Great Plains region. 

These patchwork prairies will not replace what has already been lost, but can begin to help raise awareness about conserving any remaining prairie remnants.  Hopefully, we will no longer take for granted the prairies around us and work toward managing and conserving this landscape that is quickly vanishing.

Aquilegia canadensis, columbine

You may ask yourself, “Can a backyard prairie garden really make an impact?  How do I increase the value of my prairie garden?”  The value of a small prairie garden seems minuscule compared to the large prairie tracts that are being lost each year. 

Here are a few things you can do to maximize the impact of your small patchwork prairie garden and further your backyard conservation efforts.

Plant a diverse prairie garden

As you design your garden, look to include as many different species as possible.  It is important to have a succession of bloom from spring through fall.  Include some of the native grasses to provide vertical elements and alternative textures. These elements will support and frame some of the native wildflowers.  Your garden can become a conversation starter within your neighborhood.  Your neighbors’ perspective may shift as your intentionally “wild” and slightly “messy” garden creates habitat for wildlife and pollinators.  People will notice the difference. Your garden, along with many other prairie gardens throughout neighborhoods, will add value to the environment and broaden the conversations we can have.

Fall Blooming Asters with Little bluestem

Connect with where you live

For many of us, we take for granted the prairies around us.  Even though we have some of the largest tracts of prairie like the Flint Hills at our doorsteps, we often don’t see the peril they face.  So in light of these difficulties, it is imperative that we use native species from our region.  Create a sense of place by incorporating as many plants of a local eco-type as possible.  These plants are adapted to your climate and soil.  Cultivated varieties and hybrids give us consistent characteristics and qualities. However, they often lack the same landscape value to pollinators as the true species and are most likely not from your region.  Choose your plants wisely to maximize the impact they have to the garden aesthetic and the wildlife that need them.    

Create an immersive experience

Layers of plants from different perspectives or vantage points will offer you the most enjoyment from your garden.  As you are drawn through the landscape, surrounded by lush plantings, you can enjoy the changes from season to season.  Sunlight, texture, color, and varying heights combine to provide unique encounters with your landscape.  The value of these experiences for your body and soul cannot be measured.  Quiet reflection can calm you after a hard day or bring you some perspective in your life.

Early summer in the Kansas Wildflower Exhibit

Most gardens will never be as perfect as we want them to be, but they still have value for us and our environment. They are valuable to wildlife and pollinators. Valuable for the broader conversation about stewardship of the land.  Valuable to us as we become more aware of the role we can play in conservation and as we develop a relationship with the land. 

Don’t sell short the importance of the prairie, no matter how big or how small. Every step taken, every wildflower or grass propagated, every patchwork prairie garden planted has value.

Coneflowers: Native vs Hybrid

Echinacea, or coneflower, is possibly one of the most well known prairie flowers. Endemic to North American prairies, it is known around the world for its medicinal properties and its versatility as a cut flower. There are ten distinct species of naturally occurring echinacea, but the horticultural industry has created countless hybrids.
Though native echinacea only comes in purple, pale purple, or yellow, hybridized echinacea can be red, orange, pink, green or even multi-color. But what besides color make these new coneflowers different? And are there any downsides to using engineered plants over natives?

 

Our native Echinacea pallida always has thin, reflexed petals and a pale purple hue.

‘Julia’ is a hybrid coneflower sporting vibrant orange flowers on strong stems. Photo courtesy of Walter’s Gardens.

How They Are Made: Wilderness Vs Laboratory

Most newfangled varieties of Echinacea are from the species E. purpurea. Unassuming and bright, the ‘straight species’ of Echinacea purpurea has long lasting purple blooms that readily self seed in the garden. Insects pollinate these wild coneflowers by carrying pollen (i.e. genetic material) between whatever echinaceas are nearby, producing seeds with mixed traits and variable habits. However, hybrid varieties have much more protected DNA, developed by humans through hand pollinating of flowers with desirable qualities. It can take years to successfully select, cross, and stabilize a genetic line of new coneflowers for the garden market.

This variety of Echinacea called ‘ Cleopatra’ has eye catching yellow flowers. Photo courtesy of Walter’s Gardens.

Pros

Using hybrid echinacea gives you more options. If you like to make bold statements and thematic garden designs, a wider color pallette is always more fun. The hybrid types come in all different sizes as well, meaning customers can choose tall or dwarf types to fit multiple landscaping needs. Native coneflowers, like E. pallida or E. paradoxa, will always be between 1.5-3 ft tall when planted in optimal conditions. Beyond height, genetically modified coneflowers often have better branching and a more compact habit than the native type. They are usually less prone to flopping over, and some even have a longer bloom period. For gardens with limited space, hybrid coneflowers offer lots of color in a more manageable package.

E. angustifolia is an iconic prairie flower, beloved by pollinators and humans alike.

 

‘Salsa’ Echinacea is from the Sombrero series of coneflowers offered by Walter’s Garden. All of the varieties shown in this post will be available at our fall plant sale!

Cons

Native coneflowers are excellent food sources for pollinators, but the jury is still out on whether hybrids are as beneficial. We know that hybrid echinaceas with double and triple blooms are useless to pollinators because the extra petals block nectar and pollen. However, preliminary studies on the subject suggests some single flowered hybrids are as attractive to pollinators as their parent plants.

Additionally, some hybrid varieties are sterile and do not produce viable seeds to support seed eating birds. Humans reproduce most hybrid varieties through vegetative propagation, either by tissue culture or by cuttings and divisions. This means they are genetic clones of each other and do not contribute to genetic diversity within the Echinacea gene pool. Less genetic diversity transmitted to the next generation of plants leaves echinacea species’ at risk for disease and decay of their genetic line. Ecological considerations aside, some new varieties don’t seem to be as long lived as the true natives. 

Bumblebee visiting Echinacea purpurea – photo by Janelle Flory Schrock

Whether or not you go with true natives or new varieties of coneflower depends on the purpose of your planting. If you want an ecological planting that increases biodiversity and improves habitat, then stick with Kansas natives. But to simply improve the aesthetics of your landscape and add a splash of color, new hybrid varieties will do the trick. Come to the FloraKansas fall plant sale and get your fill of coneflowers, native and otherwise!






Three Lessons I Have Learned About Native Plants

When I started at the arboretum 18 years ago, I thought I knew so much.  I had book knowledge about horticulture, but I had not learned much about native plants.  In fact, information about native plants was almost non-existent.  My learning curve was very steep those first few years. Even now I continue to learn how to garden with native plants – the lessons just keep coming.  Here are the three lessons I think are essential for a successful prairie garden.

Be Patient

I know this goes counter to our “instant everything” culture, but prairie plants don’t work that way. A prairie garden does not magically appear overnight.  It takes time for those transplants or seedlings to develop root systems that will sustain them during the dry periods of the year.  I remember visiting a prairie reconstruction in Wisconsin several years ago.  It had been established from seed 20 years earlier and they said it was just then really maturing into a true prairie.  I have found that if you are patient, you will be rewarded by beautiful, strong and adapted native plants.

Kansas gayfeather

 

Start Small

Planting too much too soon – I have made this mistake many times.  My eyes get bigger than I can manage.  I like too many of these native plants and rather than working at a project in stages, I plant the whole area.  I then spend the rest of the summer maintaining a planting that is too big for the time I can give it.  It has a tendency to get out of hand in a hurry if I don’t keep up with it on at least a weekly basis.  Plant an area that you can handle with your schedule.

EPS Planting

 

Plan your garden for all seasons of the year

This lesson took the longest to learn, because it meant becoming familiar with the native plants.  I needed to learn all about them – their bloom times, soil conditions they need to thrive, mature height and what they look like when not blooming, including seedheads and forms.  Most of these characteristics had to be experienced over several years.  That information is vital to planning and developing a prairie garden.

Monarch on Aster

 

There are no Wave Petunias in the prairie, so you need to plan your garden with a succession of bloom.  Combine wildflowers in such a way that there is always a new set coming into bloom and going out of bloom throughout the year.  Grasses can be strategically incorporated as a backdrop or to highlight interesting seed heads and to add texture and movement during the winter.

With each new season comes new revelations about native plants.  They are so intriguing and diverse.  There really is a plant for just about any area if you match the plants with your site.  The key to understanding the prairie landscape is to keep learning.  I know that I still have much to learn and experience.  Each day is a new opportunity.






Five Surprises from our Prairie Garden

I know it is cliché to say I have been busy, but I have been busy.  We are all busy these days.  It seems that is just a fact of life.  You are not living if you are not busy doing something or going somewhere.  We are moving so fast that we are too distracted to notice the little things.  However, something happened to me the other day that I can’t stop thinking about.

I had been working around the greenhouse and stopped for a few minutes to rest.  If I had not stopped, I would have missed it.  A ruby-throated hummingbird sipping nectar from the hummingbird mint.  I was mesmerized as I watched him flit from flower to flower only three feet away.  It was amazing how something so small could capture my attention.  But the key to seeing it was stopping what I was doing and observing what was happening around me.

Male_Ruby-Throated_Hummingbird_1

That hummingbird was my first surprise, but more have followed over the past few days.  I noticed a large black and yellow bumble bee that was climbing completely inside the Penstemon cobaea.  He would almost disappear as he searched for the nectar deep in the flower.  He would climb out and go to the next flower as he tirelessly worked each bloom for food.

 

The stately beauty of Indigos has taken me by surprise.  They rise early in the season to put on a show and then persevere through the summer, ultimately turning black as the weather cools.  The vibrant blue and yellow flower spikes stand out in the sea of green prairie grasses.

Spring Flowers

 

The birds feeding their young is another surprise.  Where do they find the food for all those hungry mouths?  They are constantly searching for food.  Whether robins or cardinals, they do what needs to be done to keep their brood happy and healthy.

A nest of robins in a hawthorn tree.

A nest of robins in a hawthorn tree. Photo by Cheri Kaufman.

 

The intricate beauty of a Pawpaw tree blooming caught my attention.  The reddish-brown flowers held upside down drew me to the tree like a magnet.  I had seen these trees bloom before, but there was something different this year that made me stop.  It was something special.  It was interesting and beautiful – worth the time to witness.

Asimina_triloba_kz1

These are just a few things that caught my attention.  I know there are many more surprises out there to discover.  Should these types of things surprise us?  They would surprise us less if we took time to observe more, but we are distracted too much.  Stop and take in what is happening around you in your garden.

Hopefully you, like I, will be rewarded by observing the landscape, by taking the time for quiet reflection in your prairie garden – leaving you with a mental note that will bring a smile to your face during your busy day.

I can still see that hummingbird around those flowers.  What is your hummingbird moment?

 






Five Benefits of Native Plants

The prairies of the Great Plains are diverse and complex.  They are often overlooked and taken for granted.  They are subtle in beauty, but resilient.  Because of the many benefits the prairie provides to us and the environment, it is an ecosystem worth saving.  Here are five benefits of native plants – though there are certainly more that we will experience as we begin to utilize these plants in our landscape:

  1. Low Maintenance

    There is no such thing as a no-maintenance landscape. Native plants still need some care, but compared to a traditional landscape with a lawn, tidy shrubs and a few trees surrounded by perennial beds, native plants are extremely low in maintenance. Native plants are adapted to our climate and can grow in the toughest environments. Once established, their deep roots take them through prolonged periods of drought.  It was great to see native plants blooming in the fall of 2012 after so many days of scorching heat.  The blue sage, heath aster, goldenrod, little bluestem, and switchgrass brightened up our prairie reconstruction.  It was a testament to their toughness. The slide below illustrates exactly why native plants are so much more resilient than the typical lawn – notice the difference in the root system of turf grass (far left) to many of the most common wildflowers and grasses of the prairie.

  1. Saves money

    There are obvious savings associated with a native landscape compared to maintaining a traditional landscape. A native landscape uses less water, little or no fertilizer and no chemicals or pesticides, which in turn saves you time. I am frugal and a native landscape is a low cost alternative to a traditional lawn-dominated landscape.  Conservation and stewardship are trends that help you and the environment.

  2. Water

    We have seen an increased interest in native plants because of the water they save once established. Many homeowners are decreasing their lawns as a way of saving water and money.  Most roots on a fescue or bluegrass lawn are only three to four inches deep compared to prairie wildflowers and grasses that develop extensive root systems several feet deep.  Big Bluestem grass for example establishes roots up to ten feet deep.  With a shallow root system, a typical lawn requires ten gallons of water per square foot through the summer to keep it looking green.  If you minimize your lawn, you will begin to diminish your dependence on water.  Click here for an example of a Waterwise Landscape Design.

  3. Beautiful plants

    If you have ever walked through a pristine prairie or observed the changing seasons in the Flint Hills, you know the exquisite beauty of wildflowers in bloom coupled with native grasses. It is understated and taken for granted. I am always amazed at the complexity and intricacies of these prairie plants.  They create a very unique sense of place.

Missouri Black-eyed Susan

  1. Attract pollinators and wildlife

    Pollinators and wildflowers have a symbiotic relationship. If you have wildflowers you will have butterflies. There have been over 20 documented butterflies in the arboretum during the butterfly counts.  They seek out our wildflowers and utilize them throughout the year.  Monarch populations are declining.  They need milkweeds, and since we have milkweeds in the arboretum, they show up.  Read this article on how to encourage and sustain the monarch butterfly population by planting milkweed varieties.  Also, just like the Monarchs, songbird populations are declining.  They need prairie habitat for survival along with wildflower seeds to feed overwintering birds.

ArbFlowers 342

Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed

 

There are more reasons to grow native plants, but you get the idea.  Prairie is good, not only for you, but also for the environment.  The many benefits far outweigh negative perception.  When you plant native wildflowers and grasses, you will be rewarded time and again for your prairie habitat.  I don’t know how we got away from our regional identity of a prairie landscape, but it is essential to who we are and what grows best here.

Join us in re-establishing some prairie roots in your own yard, and then spread the word by sharing this information with your friends.

 






How to Design a Native Plant Garden

One of the biggest criticisms of native plants is that they often look too wild, unkempt and messy.  Grasses dominate while wildflowers struggle to provide the visual impact desired in a landscape.  Wild is as wild does.

So how do we tame the wildness of the prairie? How do we design a native plant garden that doesn’t look so wild?  Is it even possible?  I believe it can be done.  You can have the beauty of the prairie and all the benefits of a native ecosystem with a properly designed native garden.

Consider these fundamentals as you design your native plant garden:

IMG_8147

Butterfly weed and ornamental native grass display

Match plants to your site. Look at your landscape.  Is it sunny or in the shade?  Is the soil clay or sand?  Evaluate these elements and choose plants that will thrive in the microclimate of your yard.  Sun-loving native plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight to grow happily. Otherwise look at more shade-loving natives.  A carefree landscape begins with matching plants with climate.  Choose plants that occur in the same or similar climate for a maintenance free garden.  It has been my experience that this is the most important element in developing a successful native garden.  Anytime you stray too far off, the plants don’t flourish and they require more effort.  Planting a swamp milkweed on a dry hill or a primrose in a bog will never work.

 

Native Columbine

Native Columbine

Design for succession of bloom. There are no Wave Petunias in the prairie or plants that bloom all season, so choose plants that will bloom in spring, summer and fall.  If you go to the prairie throughout the year, you will observe wildflowers coming into or out of bloom.  The prairie is constantly changing.  Design with those changes in mind.  Discover how native plants appear at different times of the year and highlight interesting elements such as seedheads for winter interest.  Grasses can be included for structure, winter texture and movement.   Little bluestem in fall accentuates the seedheads of the Missouri Black-eyed Susan beautifully.

 

Summer Prairie Garden

Summer Prairie Garden

Group similar plants together. Fifteen blazing stars blooming in the summer create a focal point in the landscape.  Place them next to a spring blooming wildflower and a fall blooming wildflower and you have organized the display for year round interest.  Use grasses sparingly to frame the garden or as a backdrop for some of your wildflowers.  This makes it easier to maintain, because you know what is planted in each area.  When weeding, you know everything else has to be removed because wildflowers will reseed.

 

LateSummerPlants_0015

Kansas gayfeather and gray-headed coneflower

Keep your plants in scale. Choose plants that don’t grow taller than half the bed width.  So if your display bed is six feet wide choose plants that are no more than three feet tall.  A compass plant would be way too tall.

Define the space. A well-designed native garden can be enhanced with a border.  It can be edged with limestone, brick or some other natural material.  This element alone makes your native garden look clean, attractive, and intentional.  Even a clean-cut edge can really help define the garden’s borders.

Control Perennial Weeds. You will save yourself many headaches by eradicating problem weeds like bindweed and Bermuda grass before you plant.  It is better to wait until these weeds are eliminated before you establish your new garden, trust me!!!

It sounds so easy, but we all know that landscapes, no matter how well-designed, will take some input on our part.  Beautiful gardens don’t just happen. They are the result of planning, development, time and a little bit of effort.

I am still learning too.  My epiphany came several years ago after trying to grow dry, sun loving plants in a wet, sunny garden.  It took me three tries to realize the futility of my efforts.  Hopefully, you can learn from these basic principles and find success in your landscape.  If you need information about native plants, visit our plant library, landscape designs or give us a call.

 






Winter Dreams of Prairie Gardens

ThinkingMan2

We are near the longest nights of the year when your landscape is cold, brown, and sometimes snowy with few creatures stirring. But soon, if not already, you will be having visions of coneflowers and ground plums dancing in your head.

Since landscaping labor is not taking up your free time at the moment, now is the perfect time to be thinking about and planning the logistics of your spring or fall prairie garden.

Here are a few things you can be doing during the months of winter to prepare for your prairie garden:

Identify Desired Area

Identify the area you want to plant and measure the square footage. With a generally recommended planting rate of one plant/2-4 sq. ft., knowing your planting area will allow you to estimate the number of plants you need and help establish a budget (~$4/plant).

Install Edging

Edging around your prairie garden is not only aesthetically pleasing, but functionally critical to establish where you should stop weeding and start mowing. Garden center options include plastic, metal, wood, or brick, but my favorite is Kansas limestone. A good source in Central Kansas is the Florence Rock Quarry where I last acquired an inexpensive load for $20.50/ton.

Picture1

Embedded limestone for a garden border.

Acquire Mulch

Mulch is essential to reduce water and nutrient competition for new prairie plants, reduce weeds, and slow soil moisture loss. Garden center mulch is always available in easy-to-transport bags but, you also have to pay for it. Many municipalities offer free self-serve mulch or a friendly request to a local tree-trimming contractor may get a pile delivered right to your desired location. A layer of newspaper under the mulch will give a bit more biodegradable weed protection in the first year.

Picture2

Newspaper under mulch is a great first year weed barrier.

Plan for Bermuda Grass Eradication

Believe me, you don’t want it in your prairie garden. If your site gets plenty of sun you most likely have it; delay your planting till late summer so you can eradicate this species during its growing season. This is the one scenario for which I use herbicide and plan for two to three glyphosate treatments (e.g., Roundup) in the months of June-September to eliminate this very difficult-to-weed warm-season grass.

Picture1

Killing Bermuda grass is essential before planting.

Hardscape Features

Water features and feeders attract wildlife, seating allows you to relax in your garden, and weatherproof artwork adds beauty.

Bench

Leopold Bench (http://www.aldoleopold.org/AldoLeopold/LeopoldEvents.shtml)

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Petersen Elementary’s Artwork by Erin Dresher Dowell

Consider Sun Exposure and Other Notable Features

Sun exposure and notable features that affect soil moisture such as low spots or downspouts will affect your plant choices. Consider structures or tree canopies that will block sunlight anywhere from straight overhead to about 45 degrees off the southern horizon. Prairie plants can thrive with at least six hours of sunlight. With less sunlight you should consider more shade-tolerant woodland understory species. Water from downspouts will wash away mulch.

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Consider the amount of sunlight your garden area receives (Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solar_altitude.svg)

Pick Plants

Peruse our Dyck Arboretum plant library and keep an eye out for our spring and fall plant sale lists. Have fun choosing the plants that fit your preferences with regard to season of bloom, flower color, height, dormant season texture and color, wildlife attraction, and more. See our website for further tips and ideas on landscaping with native plants.

Attention to these items in advance will make your native landscaping endeavor much more successful and enjoyable. Enjoy your winter planning during the darkest days of winter and signs of spring will be here before you know it!