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Groundwork for Pollinator Patch

 
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Looking to lay the groundwork for a turning a chunk of lawn into a wildflower patch. Roughly 150 square feet. I have cardboard, fall leaves, and a ton of woodchips at my disposal. Soil isn't great, a lot of silt/clay. I’m renting a dingo (baby dozer with scoop) this weekend to move the woodchip pile and trying to maximize my rental use.

My plan (for which I invite criticism) is to avoid sod removal by laying down a little wood chip and leaf layer, then cardboard, then more wood chips. Wet, cover with plastic?, and leave until next spring (adding more moisture as needed.)  The hope is to use time to break down the sod and build the soil so I can just lightly till it and seed it with a good wildflower mix.

Good plan? Stupid plan? Any suggestions/alternatives?
Thanks in advance!
 
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Hi, Matt

Your plan sound good though I am wondering why you are not putting the cardboard down first?

Something to consider is that most wildflower seeds are sown in October.  You can buy seed mixes that say you can plant in the spring and some seeds will germinate in the spring.  The one that need stratification will not germinate until October.

I have not had very good luck with spring sown wildflower seeds from seed mixes.



 
Matt Todd
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Anne Miller wrote:Hi, Matt

Your plan sound good though I am wondering why you are not putting the cardboard down first?

Something to consider is that most wildflower seeds are sown in October.  You can buy seed mixes that say you can plant in the spring and some seeds will germinate in the spring.  The one that need stratification will not germinate until October.

I have not had very good luck with spring sown wildflower seeds from seed mixes.



Thanks Ann! I did end up putting down just a bit of decomposed leaves under the cardboard, but all the woodchips on top. I get you on the "seed in October" part, makes sense with cold stratification. I guess my concern is how well my cardboard and woodchips are going to break down in a year. Do you think it will break down enough for the seeds to germinate and take root? I considered tilling in the spring to make sure dirt was accessible, but don't imagine I can do that with if I already have seeds down since October.  
 
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Matt, I will be following this as I want to encourage pollinators too.  Keep us updated on your progress.

I put down an overlapping layer of cardboard and probably 1/8" of damp newspaper in the bottom of each of my planting beds.  Come harvest time, I've never encountered any undecomposed cardboard and have only had issues with crabgrass creeping in.  
 
Anne Miller
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Matt said  I guess my concern is how well my cardboard and woodchips are going to break down in a year. Do you think it will break down enough for the seeds to germinate and take root?



Since you put a layer of leaves I feel that will help break down the cardboard.My experience with cardboard is that it last a while though I live where it is hot and dry. If you get a decent amount of rainfall that will help.

I don't think the plant roots will penetrate the cardboard so you may need to remove it if it doesn't break down.  Seeds need good soil contact to germinated.  When we sow our seeds we go back over it by walking on running the golf cart or mule over the area several times.  

This website has some tips:

https://www.seedsource.com/garden/planting










The method that I described here might help:

https://permies.com/t/140113/wood-chips#1098736

Here is the technique that I use:

I use the red solo cup that are for parties.  I cut the top off for about 3 1/2 inches.  Throw away the bottoms and keep the tops.

I move the chips back and insert the cup into the soil about 2 inches. Then I follow the package directions for planting the seeds.

I developed this method because it is very windy where I live and I didn't want my seeds to blow away.

Once the plants have gotten a good start the cup tops can be removed easily.

 
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