Widflowers For Long Area?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by WETSCAPE, May 11, 2008.


    WETSCAPE LawnSite Member
    Posts: 168

    HI all. I have a Customer in CT that wants to do a wildflower border along a very long strip. It actually goes from the street to his stonewall about 5'x60'.
    I am trying to find him something that will not get leggy or messy looking (and stay compact)? Its in a good amount of sun. Any help would be appreciated (as always)........

    One more thing would like to find a seed to put down..
  2. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    Anyone who does a wildflower border has to realize that they are not " 100% maintenance free " plots of ground, after the seed's been sown.
    Alot of the mixes of seeds can contain a combination of annual, biannual and perennial species of flowers.
    Part of the required maintenance is.... in the mid to late fall AFTER the second full growing season :


    A) Mow the the entire plot down to within 4" of the ground....


    (the generally more preferred method... :))
    B) Burn the wildflower plot on a generally mild, windless day.

    Otherwise, over time you'll more than likely find that your wildflower investment will rapidly and greatly decline in it's level of "showiness".
  3. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    I wouldn't by a "Wildflower Mix" at all for the reasons Marcos mentions. You get a lot of crap in the mix. I've got a long strip of wildflowers in my own yard and never mow it down or fert or water. Its great. But I've bought specific seed varieties and/or plants
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    Don't make the mistake of clearing the ground or prepping it in any way. That will just invite grasses and weeds. Just pick seeds that are native to the area and spread them just before your rainy season. Here we spread seeds in the fall for a spring show of flowers. Then again in June for a Aug-Sept showing. The biggest problem I have had is the dominant varieties taking over and after a few years they are all that are left.
  5. jaybird24

    jaybird24 LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 623

    Do some research before bidding or working on the site. Like was stated get a good quality mix from a company that specializes in this, like JFNew or look for a seed company that caters to your area. You do not want to bring in seeds non native to your area, and some areas ecosystems vary greatly in a relatively small distance. For instance here we have mostly medium height grassland, 20 miles south of here is shortgrass prairie. Proper preparation is the key to getting a good start and longevity from the planting. After 5 years a well prepared site requires very little maintenance.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Whats the difference between wildflowers and weeds?
    I don't know either :)

    Depending on how you 'spin it' you need to educate the client that indigenious weeds are just as relevant as "indigenious" wildflowers.

    If they want ugly, messy, full of misquitos and wood ticks etc. go ahead and neglect the ground you want them on. Its ok if you can raise wild quail in the spot to complete the eco-system otherwise its a bust.
  7. jaybird24

    jaybird24 LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 623

    After thinking about it an area that thin would probably be much better suited to being a perennial bed. If you start with plugs and mulch it then it will be much easier to maintain as an area the customer will view as pretty, not leggy or weedy. The area just is not wide enough to support the diversity needed to prosper as a restoration site without looking too wild. Treat it like any other bed, you can still use native plantings, just with a more refined landscape look. Natives will require less maintenance, and do well without having to pamper the area other than weeding to keep it looking clean.
  8. Premo Services

    Premo Services LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,516

    So what do you do?
    I have an area that I want wildflowers in and it has some grass and weeds.
    Do you use roundup to kill the weeds then just put the seed out?
  9. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 641


    Most forbs (wildflowers) seed requires a series of freeze/thaw events to germinate. An area to be sown with wildflower seeds should be free of any vegetation. That starts with a early summer application of glysophate. A few weeks later, follow up with a repeat application to kill any new germination and anything missed the first time around. If allowed, a few weeks later burn the residue. Keep any soil working to a minimum. The more you work it, the more weed seed you will expose. If the grade is where you want it, I would do nothing more than a light raking just before putting down the seed, which should be done between Thanksgiving and New Years.

    The first year, mow the area anytime the growth gets above knee high. You will see little or no flowering the first year. The second year, mow only if you have weeds and grasses that are out-competing the forbs. Year three is the payoff year. From then on, burn the area once a year, alternating loosely between spring and fall burns.

    Smaller areas can be planted with potted plants, instead of seed, which will result in much faster (same season in most cases) and more defined results.

    Contact the Missouri Department of Conservation for more information. They have contact information for you concerning places to buy native plants and seeds, detailed instructions on how to start a wildflower planting of any size -- from a few square feet to hundreds of acres, and details on cost share programs for larger projects. Any Missouri homeowner or landscaper should investigate the advantages of native plants and native landscaping by visiting http://www.grownative.org
  10. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,720

    jeffinsgf is absolutely correct about the "payoff year", or rather, the year that you get the fierce blooms that you'd be looking for.

    For example :
    In a development not too far from here, about 4-5 years ago, a hydro seeder was contracted to "blow" both sides of a HUGE bridge-culvert that connects two sections of a subdivision over top of a beautiful creek line vista. Probably covering a total of about 3-4 acres altogether.

    After the 1st summer went by and there was little to no blooming going on, the developers and the general contractor in charge, were peeved !!! :cry:. :cool2: :hammerhead:

    But the contractor tried to buy more time, in explaining to them that the lions share of what he'd used were stuff like rudbekia, which are bi-annuals.
    The second season did indeed see a thrust of rudbekia, or "black-eyed-susans" come on in the summer.

    The third season, indeed, was the best...as far as "assortment" is concerned.

    But I do know that they're not allowed to do any burning on those steep slopes...because of the danger to the fancy fencing at the top of the the slopes, as well as to the million dollar homes on either side of this massive connector culvert.
    So ....because of this, I'll expect to see a gradual decline in the flowers in the coming years...despite the meager "mowing plan" they've got in place.

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