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Site Preparation

Prior to installing native seed or plants, the site needs to be prepared properly, which involves identifying existing native plants, removing unwanted vegetation, stabilizing erodible areas, and preparing the plant and seed beds. Before making modifications to a site, however, be sure to obtain any required permits and put proper erosion control measures in place. Cardno can assist with your permitting and erosion control needs.

Before installing a native landscape, a site may need to be prepared over one or more growing seasons. The effort required depends on current site conditions, in particular the amount of non-native plants in the seed bank and invasive species on site. Cardno can provide the professional assistance needed to evaluate site preparation needs.

Identify any existing native vegetation

Some projects may have areas of “remnant” habitat present. Protecting these species onsite or temporarily relocating and using them later as part of the installation can be key to a project’s success. Cataloging which species are present within these areas can also be highly valuable for developing a planting plan, because the remnant will contain species that have adapted to survive at that particular site. These remnants can also serve as seed sources for plant material if preserving local genotype is a goal of the project.

Remove unwanted vegetation

Herbicide being applied in the field to remove unwanted or invasive vegetation from the area.Be sure to remove any weeds and existing vegetation that could out-compete native species. Besides the usual aggressive invasive species, such as Purple Loosestrife, Reed Canary Grass, and Honeysuckle, some of the more problematic competitors include cool-season grasses, such as Brome, Clover, Tall Fescue, and other turf grasses. If your site has a significant unwanted plant seed bank, it will likely require ongoing control and maintenance, to ensure unwanted vegetation does not become re-established.

Several techniques can be used to remove undesirable vegetation. Hand weeding can be done if a site is small or if there are a limited number of plants to be removed. However, for most sites, either a more aggressive approach or a combination of approaches is typically needed. A trained and licensed native landscape professional should perform these intensive vegetation control activities.

For a complete guide, please download our Installation and Maintenance Guidelines PDF document.