In 2012, I had had quite enough of looking out my office window and gazing onto a field of turf grass. For those of us into biodiversity, few substrates short of cement or tarmac could be more boring. So, I acted. I caught the ear of the people who manage our complex and its grounds, and in relatively short order a meeting was convened. Aided and abetted by some like-minded friends who also work at our Ohio Department of Natural Resources central office complex, we laid out our case for botanical diversification.
The powers-that-be were quite receptive, and now, at least on a third-acre or so, we have a vastly richer environment. I wrote a bit about this prairie's beginnings RIGHT HERE. I cannot thank the building and grounds managers enough for letting us act on this idea. Bob Kehres at Ohio Prairie Nursery was integral to the project, both in providing expertise and seed sources.
So, back in 2012 the entire area in the photo above was nothing but close-cropped turf grass. We planted in the spring of 2013, and saw results that very first year. The fledgling prairie was sparser in its inaugural year, but lots of colorful annuals sprang forth, beautifying our creation. Last year was better. More plants of more species emerged, and the overall vegetation grew thicker. Things were looking good.
To me eye, that colorful patchwork of prairie is far showier than the lawn that preceded it. And it's a lot less maintenance. No mowing required. The first two years, some weeding was necessary to control some weedy species that in many cases were probably in the seedbank. This year, the prairie's third growing season, the amount of undesirable nonnative plants was probably two-thirds reduced from last year. The tough prairie plants are taking hold and outcompeting them. Before long, maintenance will mostly consist of just mowing the site once in early spring, prior to the growing season, and not much more.
If you read this blog, you'd probably be interested in doing something like this too. I'm sure some of you already have. Here's a great tip to jumpstart your venture into native flora: Visit the Midwest Native Plant Conference in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday, July 25th. An impressive array of plant vendors will be present, peddling the coolest native flora imaginable. CLICK HERE to find a list of just some of the species that will be for sale. All are welcome, and pass the word.
If everyone planted a prairie, the world would inarguably be a better place.