Bringing Back the Prairie
Ever since I worked in habitat restoration in Minnesota during college, I’ve had a love and respect for prairies. Most people do not realize that prairies are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the United States. Their plant, animal, fungi and insect diversity is pretty impressive. Additionally, they rely on fires to reproduce and thrive. Two years ago, I decided I would create a mini-prairie in my backyard.
Then I got chickens.
For their first 8 months outside, I let the ladies free range in the backyard. It was good for them, but not for my prairie. All of the native grasses and wildflowers I planted had been eaten and my backyard terraced area where the chimenea and hammock lived looked like a cratered moon surface. (Chickens LOVE to make little “holes” in which to roll and sit.)
Two weeks ago Andy helped build a smaller confined area for the chickens in the backyard. Now that the chickens are confined (but still have plenty of room to roam), I have a backyard again! Within a few days of the chickens’ absence, the grasses began to grow back. Sometime this month, when I get some free time (ha), I will trek over to my parent’s neighborhood where there are mounds of cedar trees that were cleared (for houses) and then mulched; they are left on the lot and generally up for the taking.
Two years ago when I “designed” my backyard space and prairie, I hauled about 4 truckloads of cedar mulch to my backyard. The result was a beautiful backyard on a budget!
Over the weekend, I sprinkled more native grass seeds. Today I sprinkled native wildflower seeds. Soon enough I will yet again have a [shady] prairie area with native grasses and flowers. I ordered all of them from my friend’s seed company, which is excellent. It’s called Native American Seed and is located in Junction, TX. Gorgeous area of the state, by the way.
The grasses included in the “Shade Friendly” mix are: Purpletop, Inland Seaoats, Prairie Wildrye, Sideoats Grama, Virginia Wildrye, Plains Bristlegrass and Texas Wintergrass.
The flowers included in the “Shade Friendly Wildflower” mix are: Purple Coneflower (echinecea), Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Golden-Wave, Clasping Coneflower, Cutleaf Daisy, Drummond Phlox, Black-Eyed Susan, Scarlet Sage, Winecup, Butterfly Weed and Pigeonberry.