I love my little prairie patch! I reconstructed a miniature prairie on a corner of my lot in 2008. The giant mulberry tree and numerous smaller trees and shrubs were taken out by the utility company. From this newly disturbed ground sprang a healthy crop of poison ivy, thistles and many other plants that liked this new habitat. This corner of the lot takes the storm water runoff from the intersection of the paved road and where snow is piled from clearing the housing development. As you can imagine, losing the original vegetation allowed erosion to begin cutting the slope.
I surmised that this newly sunny area was just perfect for native prairie plants! It took 3 years to convert the space, but it is happy doing it’s job filtering water, creating soil fertility and providing habitat for numerous critters including turtles, birds, rabbits, deer and humans!
My prairie grew from harvested seeds from native patches all over the Midwest, gifts from friends, as well as seed mixes and plugs I bought from Prairie Nursery. I learned so much about the early landscape of our state and felt much like a pioneer myself in the process.
Did you know that 80% of our state was covered in prairie a couple of hundred years ago? Now we have only 1/10 of 1 percent native prairie landscape left. I am glad to see a trend in homeowners converting lawns to native plantings for several reasons.
Native plantings are:
1. more economical and lower maintenance.
2. more resilient in drought and wet weather periods,
3. soil fertility builders and erosion preventers,
4. habitat for wildlife, and
Iowa Prairie Heritage week is September 8-14! There are awesome prairie activities happening all around the state including capturing, tagging and releasing monarch butterflies, seed gathering, geo-caching, bird watching and counting, pioneer cemetery tours, talks, hikes and more!
What’s native in your neck of the woods?