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Old 10-16-2015, 10:37 PM   #1
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Turning lawn into prairie with sheet mulching...?


I have a ~500 square foot bit of lawn between a walkway and the top of a retaining wall that I would like to convert from a standard lawn into a meadow grass and flower planting area. The finished concept will be mostly covered in bluestem or Indian grass plus some blue grama interspersed, and possibly bunches of prairie dropseed. There will probably be some space between some of these plantings, filled in with mulch, for interest. I'd like to start the grasses from seed in the spring and fill in some native flowers once it starts to take shape.

Now, getting there:
I plan to do the "sheet mulching" method this fall. I'll cut the grass low, then add layers of wet newspaper, then compost. It should be ready to sow/plant in the spring. To inhibit weed growth I do not want to add mulch, since I would have to remove most of it to plant grass. Instead I would like to lay down black plastic OR weed-free bog hay or whatever it's called.

Will black plastic be okay for this application? It seems like it would, but I worry that cutting off airflow and additional water over the winter might not be good for the compost process. Since it's at the top of a retaining wall I worry that it might cause a lot of water to absorb in just behind the wall. With straw/hay, I worry that it may blow around/away.

I'm in SE Minnesota, so we have wind and snow! I would appreciate some input on my plan, especially choice of cover-up (straw/plastic) over the winter.
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Old 10-17-2015, 07:36 AM   #2
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I would wait until early spring, treat the area with a lawn and weed killer ( the type that only works on contact and allows most flowers to be planted immediately) wait 5-7 days and start to plant.

Your wall, wind, snow and winter conditions cause me to think this way best for you situation.
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Old 10-17-2015, 09:34 PM   #3
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Thanks


I am taking that suggestion to heart and may go that way. Plastic is definitely out, will do weed free hay type stuff if I go with my original plan. Just need to check on cost for that and ability to secure it.
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Old 10-17-2015, 09:38 PM   #4
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If you are worried about seeding or erosion control look into Coconut Cloth.

Great stuff....
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Old 10-17-2015, 09:51 PM   #5
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Here's some pdf's from Prairie Nursery which is where we got our seed.
http://www.prairienursery.com/resour.../#.ViMITnmFOot
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Old 10-18-2015, 02:24 AM   #6
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If this is inside a city, rules can keep you from doing that, because they would consider that it falls under their lawn regulations. Also that area up to the retaining wall is used for utility easement. Sometimes utilities can even be under an area that a person has placed a retaining wall and they never know that there are buried utilities there, until the crews show up and start tearing that area apart.

Better to get what you need together, take it to a city county meeting and make sure that the city and your fellow neighbors are fine with this. No need to start receiving fines over this project.



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