Prairie On Blog!

The main objective of restoration is to create a new or restore an exisiting ecosystem that will be managed for the good of itself, without goals that benefit specific human engineered requirements like stormwater control or reduced maintenance costs.

When restoring an existing ecosystem, the following points must be addressed:

  • Soil Analysis- Sand, silt, clay components and structure. pH levels, nutrient levels and trace elements (micronutrients) Man made changes, such as topography changes or compaction.
  • Identify Existing Plant Community Through Botanical Survey- Appropriate native species, undesirable species, invasive species, adjacent land parcels and wetlands (be careful not to fill).
  • Fauna Survey-Terrestrial (mammals, reptiles and amphibians), avian, entomological and soils dwelling
  • Goals- Based on the survey, realistic goals can be set including timeframe, budget and objective (why are you doing this?).

Once these have been addressed a plan can be developed to allow for preserving exisiting attributes that will help acheive the goal and make provisions to remove attributes that will impede the achievement of the goal.

Attributes of the plan can include:

  • Soil Amendments- Choosing whether to use organic or synthetic fertilizer, agricultural lime or quick lime, leaf humus or compost (may have weed seed component), expanded shale, clay and slate (Haydite) or sand. Installation methods can include ripping, tilling or hydo applications.
  • Seed Mix Design- Local eco-type seed should be used whenever possible and if not readily available, regionally adapted seed can be used. Depending on seed mix composition, native ecosystems can take 3 to 5 years to establish. Expect lower cost compared to plants when using a seed mix.
  • Plant Species Selection- If choosing to use plants, expect a higher cost compared to seed. Plant material can establish in one growing season. When selecting plants, remember to take in height, hydrology, sunlight, color scheme, specific habitat and combinations of plants used. Local ecotype seed stock is preferred for plant production.
  • Live Stakes- Typically used in riparian and stream stabilization situations. Can be a component of any planting with proper care.

 When creating an ecosystem for restoration, please keep the following requirements in mind:

  • Identify The Type of System Being Designed and Built- Grassland (Grass only or Grass and Forbs), Grassland with shrubs and/or trees, successional area (utilize native grasses and forbs as an early successional component for a woodland).
  • Prepare the Area to Minimize Competition from Existing Seed Bank- See site preparation
  • Design Species Component Based on Objectives and Historical Botanical Information
  • Determine Whether Seed Only or a Seed and Plant Material Combination will be Used
  • Identify Budget
  • Create Seed Mix and Plant Pallets Based on a Combination of Above Two Factors

Seed Specifications for Restoration Mixes

Wetland:

080312-1A Wetland Native Filter Mix

WSM02 Wetland Seed Mix II

Wet Meadow:

SMM03 Sedge Meadow Mix

062911-2D Wet Meadow Mix - High Diversity

Seasonal Moisture Levels:

060214-1 Seasonally Flooded Annual & Perennial Wildlife Mix

061915-2 Floodplain Partial Shade Mix

WMFP01 Wet Meadow Floodplain Mix

Mesic (Medium) Moisture Levels:

Short Height:

M12S03 Mesic x 12 (Forbs) Short III

M18S02 Mesic x 18 (Forbs) Short 

M24S02 Mesic x 24 (Forbs) Short

Mixed Height:

M12MX03 Mesic x 12 (Forbs) Mixed Height III

M18MX01 Mesic x 18 (Forbs) Mixed Height

M24MX01 Mesic x 24 (Forbs) Mixed Height

Tall Height:

M12T01 Mesic x 12 (Forbs) Tall Height

M18T01 Mesic x 18 (Forbs) Tall Height

M24T02 Mesic x 24 (Forbs) Tall Height II

Dry Moisture Levels:

Short Height:

D12S02 Dry x 12 (Forbs) Short II

D18S02 Dry x 18 (Forbs) Short

Mixed Height:

D12MX01 Dry x 12 (Forbs) Mixed Height

D18MX03 True Colors Dry x 18 (Forbs) Mixed Height

Tall Height:

D18T01 True Colors Dry x 18 Tall