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Introducing perennial seed into an established lawn.

Posts: 14
Location: Afton, WY
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We have an open space in our backyard, that has been set aside specifically for dog use. I would like this area to be more Meadow like, but I don't want to till the whole thing up and reseed. My idea was to introduce a meadow perennial plant seed mix this fall so the seed could overwinter and germinate in Spring. Has anyone tried this? Did it work?
Posts: 171
Location: Northwest Missouri
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My understanding is that wildflower seed will not easily out-compete established grass lawn. I would suggest preparing some small amount of soil, like clear a strip 2 feet by however long, by smothering now (cardboard/tarp/etc.) Then disturb that soil after a couple hard frosts so you can seed it for spring sprouting. That might help establish a strip of meadow perennials which would slowly self seed/vegetatively propagate and expand on it's own over time. Almost like the difference between dropping a few soldiers into a field of enemies vs establishing a strong base from which to fight.

Then if the flower patch isn't growing fast enough, you can do the same thing next fall for free by cutting off some of your first year seed heads and sprinkle them on your new planting area.
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It can be difficult to get seed to establish in existing lawn, and while it is doable, it can be tricky. Foot traffic from dogs can compound that even more. One option is to plant landscape plugs into your lawn. Plugs usually come in trays of 38-50 plants and essentially are baby perennials. If you can't find them locally, a number of nurseries you can find online will mail them to you.

The advantage of using plugs is that they can potentially compete against the existing grass and withstand an occasional paw. You can plant them right into the grass but the less competition the better so you might want to consider eliminating the grass beforehand. Either way, loosen the soil some around each plug when you plant them so their roots can start growing more readily and then don't let them dry out until they're established.  Also, if you can keep them from getting shaded out by any lawn grass as it grows, that helps enormously.

If you were to take these steps, and the species you choose match the conditions of your site, the results using landscape plugs can be relatively fast; you can even have meadow plants flowering in your first season. Once the meadow plants establish you can then let the grass grow up because the species you planted from plugs will be able to hold their own.
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