View Full Version : Native Prairie Seeding

Loess Hills
12-04-2009, 07:18 PM
I am new to QDMA and need some advice. I live in NW Iowa in the Loess Hills where there is lots of natural pairie left. I purchased 25 acres of timber here 3 years ago. It is mostly Oaks, Elms, Cedar, Dogwood and Summack. I had a machine come in and clear about 4 acres of the nuisance trees and left the Oaks. It left a nice open area for me to plant prairie in. I then cleared the remnants of shredded trees etc with a skid loader, scraping the top of the ground. there was some standing wild grass growing in the brush before it was cleared. I think it may be bluegrass. After I cleared the remnants of shredded trees I drug the ground with a small drag and broadcast a mixture of the wildprairie that grows out here. I got the seed from my neighbor who is a botonist and harvests his prairie with a combine. It is a mixture of Indian and big bluestem etc. I did the seeding on Nov 30th. I wish I would have known about this site before hand, as I would have sprayed the existing grass that had existed there with roundup before my planting. My question is for someone familiar with Iowa weather, zone 4. Can I spray the grass that had been growing in the area this spring when it comes back up, before my new seeding comes up? Also what should I use, roundup? And when would be the best time to spray it as far as date? Also should I lightly drag the new seed I just sowed? thanks alot

12-04-2009, 08:45 PM
I am living in MO, but lived in Central Iowa for many years. Dogwoods are good trees to keep. Your NWSG planting can be sprayed with glyphosphate in the Spring, before the NWSG grows. I would say late April would be a good time, depending on the weather. This post will bump you to the top, where Lickcreek might see it. He is the Iowa pro on NWSG, so take heed of what he says.

12-04-2009, 09:25 PM
Welcome to the site, it's a great resource!

I would spend some considerable time in the off season learning the native grasses (there aren't THAT many common ones, should be fairly simple) as well as the cool season exotic grasses, and then typical invasive species that are problematic in your area. I bet you can find this information on your DNR website, and/or by asking people on the forum who live/work/own near your area.

It's tough to manage anything without knowing what species you are working with. Once you can identify what's on the property already, what you planted...etc. your ability to manage will be significantly improved.

I would concur with Brushpile. You should be fine with an early spray of glyphosate right after spring green-up before the NWSG have emerged. This probably won't kill the cool season grasses, just set them back allowing the NWSG to have a little better advantage. If the competition is bad, you may need to do a fall application as well, after the NWSG's have turned brown and the cool season are greening back up from the fall weather.


12-04-2009, 11:52 PM
Have your botanist neighbor come on over and take some inventory of what was growing there. Its really hard to recommend a prescription without knowing what you've got already there.

Is there still green grass right now or do you know if you have fescue? If so, spraying with glypho or a grass selective this spring will be necessary. Dragging really isn't needed.

I'll defer to Lickcreek or other Iowans to educate you on the time. Down here, you want to have it sprayed by mid April. Some seedlings can emerge here by late April, but is is normally a bit later than that.

Guess I pretty said the same thing as the other fellas.

12-06-2009, 10:56 AM
Have your botanist neighbor come on over and take some inventory of what was growing there. Its really hard to recommend a prescription without knowing what you've got already there.

Exactly, you may already have a lot of stuff there in the seed bank and not really need to re-seed anything. A good spring fire may be in order, then you will see what is already laying there and waiting. As others stated, Lickcreek is the man to figure this out for ya. :D

12-06-2009, 07:27 PM
Lickcreek will be able to help, so this is a bump to the top for Lickcreek.

Loess Hills
12-07-2009, 07:05 PM
here are a couple pictures of what was growing in the timber and brush before it was cleared. like I said in my original post, all I did was scrape the top with a skid loader when I cleared the trash off so I am sure come spring this will come back unless I spray it before my seeding comes up. Like I said I just seeded it with big blue stem and indian grass. Maybe I should just leave whats there and see what comes up. Could anyone identify what these grasses are? My neighbor the botonist is gone through the holidays so I will not be able to have him come and identify. I will also post them in the identify forum. thanks Paul

12-07-2009, 07:15 PM
If I had to venture a guess, I'd say little bluestem.

12-07-2009, 09:03 PM
Do you have pics of the seed heads? Regardless, I recommend that you purchase some Big Blue, Little Blue, and Indian Grass to frost seed, if you don't want to chance it, and want NWSG sooner than later. The Little Blue helps to support the taller grass, so it won't fall over, and is important to the mix.

12-07-2009, 10:51 PM
I've got a different philosophy BP. IF you have prairie remnants, why not just nuture what you have. You will have the seed/plants that are already adapted to the site. You won't have to worry about whether it'll grow there or not.

There is part of me that wishes I wouldn't have seeded our place and we would have worked with what was already there. I really believe we would have been pleasantly surprised.

Loess Hills
12-08-2009, 01:10 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies. Habitat, thats what I may do. I may not spray this spring and see what happens with whats there along with the seed I planted the other day. My ground has always been in prairie but had been taken over by brush and trees over the years. It was very shaded and what I saw mostly I think was blue grass growing in it. I never saw the seed heads as the grass was rolled over to the ground. I believe there is a scattering of the prairie thoughout the area, mixed with the blue grass so hopefully with the new seeding maybe thats all I will have to do. Unless others think I should spray in the spring and start over. I just dont know. I wish I would have taken lots of pics of the area before I cleared the brush and dead trees so you all could have given me more educated ideas. (my fault) I do know that in the end my goal is to have natural prairie that stands very tall like my neighbors property. thanks Paul

12-08-2009, 01:20 AM
WSG is some very robust stuff for the most part. It'll be back. As for all the brush, I'd say....get the firelines in order. That'll give you something to do in the meantime. I think you will be pleased as well to find out what you have that has been dormant in the seed bank for years just waiting for the chance. Sounds like work you have done is going to give it that chance.

Also, you can spray this spring if you have cool season grass you want to pull out of the stand. Just spray once it gets going this spring but before your WSG starts emerging.

Fire will become your friend if you truly want a healthy prairie.

It really sounds like a neat project you have going.

12-08-2009, 01:36 PM
I'm not in disagreement with HabitatMD. I would work with what you have, but I would also overseed, to help the stand along. Cool season grass should be sprayed in the Spring, to remove it as competition. You will probably also need to spray it again in the fall, when the NWSG is dormant.

I am helping a buddy do as I've recommended to you. He has Broom Sedge, which is growing in Fescue. We are killing the Fescue, and encouaging the Broom Sedge.


Broom Sedge doesn't provide the tall cover that Indian Grass and Big Blue Stem do, so we are over seeding the Broom Sedge with Indian and Big Blue. The Broom Sedge is still an important part of the mix, because it will help the taller grass remain standing. We are reseeding with seeds we gathered from nearby locations. The over seeding will be just enough to introduce the taller grasses, and once they are established, they will reseed themselves.

Loess Hills
12-08-2009, 07:09 PM
thank you for the excellent advise. thats what i am going to do then. just control the cool season grasses that come up this spring and fall. This area is down by my pond and is going to be the only open area I have, the rest of the 25 acres is all woods there are woods on my neighbors property. But the area out here as a whole is mostly natural prairie and is owned by the nature conservancy. they have thousands of acres and have recently introduced a herd of buffalo across the road from me. they are going to build the herd up to 250 head. The controlled burns they have every year are a spectacular sight to see and I enjoy helping with the burns. thanks guys

12-08-2009, 08:59 PM
I agree with HMD's thoughts in that you ought to take advantage of the prairie that is naturally there. Burning in late spring works very well and there are folks in your area that have used burning only to encourage that natives already there.

If you decide to use glyphosate, use it by mid April and then follow that with an early May burn...you'll be suprised at what comes up on it's own.

You can see what others in Iowa including some in NW Iowa are doing by reading through my threads on NWSG (I post as dbltree on other forums)

Growing NWSG - Iowawhitetail.com (http://iowawhitetail.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13362)

Check this one to see what folks are doing closest to your area...heck you guys migh be neighbors! ;)

All about NWSG - Outreach Outdoors (http://www.outreachoutdoors.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=684&start=0)