Plants & Gardening

Quick Guide: Preparing & Planting Your Native Plant Garden

  1. Choices for site preparation: If you’re planting a new garden into an existing lawn, there are several options:

    Choice A - Smother the lawn/area using a large sheet of black plastic, a tarp, or a layer of cardboard or plywood. Keep the area covered for a full growing season.

    Choice B - Using a sod-cutter, remove the top 2 – 3 inches of grass and soil, then till the cleared area lightly before installing.

    Choice C - Cultivate the planting site three times at one week intervals. If perennial weeds are present, cutivate for a full growing season every 2 – 3 weeks and plant in fall.


  2. Choose native plants that will flourish in your existing soil and soil amendment will not be necessary. Learn more about choosing native plants for your location (resources and guides/getting started) ...

  3. Plants can be installed directly into dead sod. By not disturbing the surrounding soil, weed seeds are not exposed, reducing weed growth in the new garden. Whether planting into tilled soil or dead lawn turf, you may cover the soil around each new plant with mulch.

  4. We recommend applying mulch after planting. While it is not required it will help reduce watering and retain moisture for transplants during their establishment phase. Mulch after planting with 3 - 4 inches of clean, weed-free straw or the mulch of your choice. Bark chips or nuggets are not recommended, as they contain compounds that are toxic to many herbaceous plants.

  5. Watering. During the first two months after planting, water the garden whenever the soil begins to dry out. A single deep soaking is better than numerous light sprinklings. Once the plants are well-established watering should not be necessary, except during periods of extended drought.