At the beginning of the 2022 field season, the prairie restoration team seeded native grasses on the newly bare ground of our restoration site. Over the summer, with lots of sun and careful watering, these seeds have grown in nicely, coving the site with patches of native grass.

After this seeding, there was still a good number of seeds remaining, and so in September the site was reseeded. Seeding in the fall allows the seeds to lay dormant all winter, giving them plenty of time to germinate and establish in spring before the weather gets too hot. To establish our seeds, we raked up the bare earth, scattered the seeds, and then raked them into the soil.

This gives the seeds good contact with the soil and reduces the possibility of them being blown away by the wind or eaten by local birds. While we raked in the seeds, we also raked in sawdust of two different sizes.

The sawdust performs two important functions in this restoration. The first benefit of sawdust is immediate. The sawdust in the soil acts as a mulch which retains water around the seeds, increasing their chances of germination come spring. The second benefit is more long term. Sawdust is carbon rich, and as it breaks down over time it increases the carbon levels in the soil, which is beneficial to native plants and detrimental to nitrogen-loving non-native plants.

Using two different sizes of sawdust means that the two will break down at different rates, and the soil will be enriched with carbon for longer. Hopefully this work means that this time next year, our restoration site will have a healthy cover of native grasses, and the non-native species will be less able to encroach on the area.