Choosing a Seed Mix for Your Site

Site Selection

Choose a sunny, open area that will receive at least a half-day of full sun, unless you are using our Woodland Edge/Savanna Mix. If you are planning to use fire as a long-term management tool, position the planting area to utilize natural fire-breaks such as driveways, sidewalks, lawns, or streams. Keep the planting area clear of conifers and other trees that are easily damaged by fire. If natural fire breaks are unavailable, plant a five to ten foot wide No Mow Lawn Mix buffer around your planting.

Determining Soil Type and Moisture

Native plants will tolerate a variety of soils and moisture levels. It is important, however, to determine the general soil type and soil moisture for each area that you intend to plant, in order to select the seed mix(es) that are best for your soil conditions.

Soils can be generally classified as sands, clays, and loams. Sandy or light soils are comprised of large, loosely packed, soil particles that drain easily and are easy to work. Sandy soils also tend to be low in nutrients and slightly acidic. Clays or heavy soils consist of small, tightly packed, soil particles that drain poorly and are difficult to work. They can, however, be rich in nutrients and very productive. Loams or mesic soils, the intermediate soil type between sand and clay, are usually very fertile and are composed of a variety of different sized soil particles. This particle diversity provides good moisture holding capacity and drainage, which is an excellent medium for most prairie plants.

Rub a small amount of moist soil between your thumb and fingers. A clay soil will be slick and smooth while a sandy soil will be gritty and fall apart easily. A loamy soil will feel gritty, although not as gritty as sand, and stick together easier than sand but not as tenaciously as clay. In addition, as a loamy soil dries, it will have the texture of flour.

The soil moisture content varies according to the soil type and location of the soil relative to the groundwater level. Moist soils occur relatively close to groundwater levels and dry and medium soils are relatively far from them. Moist soils can be sands, clays, or loams, which hold water throughout the growing season. Dry soils include sandy soils, or soils mixed with gravel which rarely accumulate standing water, even after a heavy rain. Medium or mesic soils include clays and loams, which, unlike the dry soils, may accumulate standing water following a heavy rain for one to three days depending on the amount and intensity of the rainfall.

Nitty gritty details about soil types: Understanding Your Soil

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