Customer Comments and Suggestions
In 2005, we sent out a survey to customers who are working on or have completed large projects in the past few years and asked them if they had any advice to share with others. Here is what they told us:
Many respondents noted that it was really important to start with a clean bed. The more work done in ground preparation, the less work needed later for weed control. Several people noted that they should have started the ground preparation earlier.
"We would do it again - think I would suggest tilling everything at the end of the season, then in Spring killing everything again - instead of trying to do it all in one season." Monte & Pat
"I would advise using a sod cutter and harvesting sod to sell rather than spraying / tilling up established yard when planting a project in an area presently in grass. Most weed seeds are present only in the sod and complete removal of the sod removes all but the deepest root systems of undesirable plants. Also, neighbors will love to use your sod to patch spots in their lawns & the money you save on spraying is great." Shakopee Creek Headwaters Project.
"I would do it again, but would till the soil and remove larger rocks." Ruth
Advice on dealing with neighbors.
Many of our respondents said their neighbors & visitors enjoyed the native plantings. Others reported negative reactions to "unsightly" or "wild-looking" areas instead of mown grass. Based on photos of the sites, plantings are usually more accepted by neighbors if there are clear borders to the planting. A little extra mulch, a row of rocks, a little fence help define the planting as intentional. For larger areas, a little sign stating "Native planting area" can also help. As more people understand the importance of using natives in the landscape, the ideal of the perfect green mowed lawn will fade. Until then, it is important to help educate your neighbors to avoid negative responses.
Plant selection advice:
"Sites that are heavily seeded with grasses seem to do best." Steve
"All 4 lilies died after one month." David (We hear this often, Lilies and several other plants often suffer transplant shock and go dormant after planting. But rest assured - they do come back the following spring. Be sure to mark their location well so you can find them next year.)
Weed control advice:
Since weed seeds exist in the ground, they inevitably appear in the planting area, Some people stated that they enjoyed getting out into the garden to pull weeds, others said they used chemicals on a sponge or glove to spot treat the undesirable plants. A few were able to mow or burn.
"Rodeo/Roundup sponge treatment of (weeds) worked quite well with very little 'overkill'." Steve
"I keep weeding." Kathy
"Be patient. It's not a 'hands-off' project." Jeff
Advice to anyone considering planting natives:
"My lakescaping is the best thing we have ever done. It attracts bees, butterflies, birds, rabbits & squirrels." Ruth
"If you like birds & butterflies, what are you waiting for?" Jeff
"This year we experienced an awesome flight of over 100 monarchs which were roosting in the ash and pine trees. It was a sight that I had dreamed about, seen only in videos and of course was thrilled to see them." Margaret
"Go For It! We've noticed a difference this year in more butterflies and birds." - Kathy
"Look at is as a long term project. The bigger area you start with, the longer it will take to reach your goal." Mark
"Those considering a project should go big! I'm already expanding my beds." Ruth