Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does OPN Seed (Ohio Prairie Nursery) have seed mixes ready to ship when I place an order?
A: It generally takes from one to four days after an order is received to blend and ship it. We do not pre-blend and inventory seed mixes but blend them fresh when your order is received. This allows us to select the freshest wildflower and native grass seed and assure the highest quality of blends at all times. An exception to this is our one ounce seed mix packets that are in sealed Mylar envelopes and have a shelf life of three years.
Q: Why is site preparation more important when planting native ecosystems as compared to traditional lawns?
A: When planting a low maintenance lawn, you are planting a collection of relatively quick establishing cool season grasses that have been bred to turf applications. The site preparation generally consists of contouring and preparing a seed bed by raking and removing debris and rocks. Since the turf grasses germinate quickly, and can be mowed and supported with broadleaf herbicides, the existing seed bank in the soil is not extremely important. Native ecosystems are composed of grasses and broadleaf plant species. They are slower to germinate and establish than turf grasses. This allows the existing seed bank to germinate and establish at the same time as your native planting. Once you have undesirable species mixed with your natives, it is difficult and time consuming to discriminate between the two. So, site preparation is important to inhibit the existing seed bank.
Q: How do I get started?
A: The first question we ask is, what are you starting with? Different site conditions, turf, finish grade, old field etc., require different techniques. See our "How To" page for information or call us to discuss your specific needs.
Q: Are the species in a rain garden the same as wetland species?
A: Wetland species like their "feet" wet all of the time. Rain gardens, bioswales, and detention basins differ from wetlands in that they are designed to drain fairly quickly and dry out. The species used in these applications are floodplain species that are selected for areas that are seasonally wet or dry.
Q: Can I put wildflowers in with a low maintenance lawn seed mix?
A: Wildflowers rarely existed in ecosystems without some grass or grass-like species. Most of the native grasses are clump grasses, as are the species in our Freedom I low maintenance lawn mix. Wildflowers can live quite comfortably in this situation and occupy the spaces between the grass clumps.
Q: I heard at one of your educational presentations that winter is a good time to seed. Can you explain this to me again?
A: Winter is an excellent time to sow seed. This technique is generally called frost seeding and can be done on a hard frost in the morning or even on a light snow on frozen ground. As the soil freezes and thaws throughout the winter, the seed sets in the soil. The cold moist conditions during this time acts to stratify the seed allowing it to begin the germination cycle. When spring comes and the soil warms up, the seed complete germinating and the plant begins to grow.
Q: How long does it take to establish a native planting?
A: The establishment time of native plantings vary greatly depending on; what species are planted, time of the planting, weather conditions, soil conditions, and site preparation. As a general rule, we tell people that two to three years are needed for a native planting to begin to mature. As time goes on, the planting becomes denser as the more conservative species begin to appear.
Q: Are native plantings maintenance free?
A: In today’s environment the pressure from non-native undesirable or invasive species is very high. Soils contain the seed of many species both native and non-native that will continue to germinate as condition are favorable. In addition, seed blows in on the wind and is carried in by birds and other animals. As a result, there are always undesirable species being introduced into native plantings. You will need to identify these species and remove them in order to keep your planting the way you intended it when it was planted. Over time, maintenance requirements generally decrease as the natives tend to dominate the site. Maintenance activities need to be looked upon as opportunities to further your understanding of how ecosystems work. From season to season over time you will get to know your planting and begin to understand the complexities and interrelationships it represents.