Helping restore the native landscape for over 50 years
Founded by Calvin Ernst in 1964, Ernst Conservation Seeds is the largest native seed producer and supplier in the eastern United States.
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Typically in moderate shade; many native species are adapted to moderate shade and the protective habitat around trees; shade tolerant native grass species, such as Agrostis perennans (Autumn Bentgrass), Chasmanthium laxum (Slender Woodoats), Cinna arundinacea (Wood Reedgrass), Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush Grass), Elymus riparius (Riverbank Wildrye), Elymus virginicus (Virginia Wildrye), and Panicum clandestinum (Deertongue), provide early protection for emerging herbaceous species. Note: For understory of longleaf pine plantings, high biomass producing species, such as switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass, should be avoided. Fire can be too hot for longleaf pine seedlings or trees when these species are burned.
The addition of organic matter (compost) is most important. Check soil pH and select species adapted to that pH.
Hand seed, broadcast seed, or hydroseed. Use a garden rake, drag, or roll the surface to incorporate the seed into the soil 1/4”-1/2” deep. A seed drill may be used when sufficient room exists for operation.
These sites generally involve working around trees and shrubs while minimizing damage to trunks and roots. Undesirable vegetation must be controlled by tilling or direct spraying with glyphosate. Invasive weeds not addressed before establishment will be difficult to remove later. The soil needs to be loosened in order to establish seed-to-soil contact and dense leaf litter should be broken up with a rototiller. Seedlings can emerge from light leaf litter if planted at the proper depth. Light mulch or hydromulch can protect the seeds and soil until germination. Seeding and mulching around bioengineering material should occur immediately after installation. If installation cannot take place immediately after grading, temporary seeding and mulching are recommended.
Whenever canopy height (overall vegetation) reaches 18”-24”, trim the meadow to 8” using a brush hog mower or string trimmer. Trimming reduces competition by fast-growing weeds for sunlight, water, and nutrients needed by slower growing perennial natives. A lawn mower is not recommended as the mower height will be too low and native seedlings will be killed.
If bioengineering materials were used on the site, mowing should be above the new growth of these materials. Trimming should cease by mid-September.
Problem weeds should be hand pulled or spot sprayed with an approved herbicide, such as Roundup®, Rodeo®, Garlon®, Garlon® 3A, Stinger®, or Milestone®. Be vigilant in controlling vines or spiny plants if they were not part of the mix. These are more easily pulled early than after they have had two to three months of growth. Examples include bindweed, blackberry, multiflora rose, mile-a-minute, and Japanese hops. Be equally vigilant in the control of other invasive species, such as autumn olive, Canada thistle, and mugwort.
Prior to new spring growth reaching 2” (e.g., shortly after forsythia or redbud blooms), trim any material standing from the previous year close to the ground (approximately 2”). This will allow the soil to warm more quickly, stimulating emergence and growth of herbaceous native plants and reducing invasion of woody undergrowth. In certain ecosystems, controlled burning by certified professionals can achieve the same results.
If bioengineering materials were used on the site or seed of shrubs/trees were part of the mix, the site should not be trimmed after the establishment year.
Problem weeds should be hand pulled or spot sprayed. Be vigilant in controlling vines or spiny plants if they were not part of the mix. These are more easily pulled early than after they have had two to three months of growth. Examples include bindweed, blackberry, multiflora rose, mile-a-minute, and Japanese hops. Be equally vigilant in the control of other invasive species, such as autumn olive, Canada thistle, and mugwort.
If there is a heavy infestation of ragweed or foxtail in the second growing season, trim the meadow to 8”. Trimming should cease by mid-September.
Baptisia albescens, SC Ecotype
Elymus virginicus, GA Ecotype
Verbesina alternifolia, PA Ecotype
Carex intumescens, PA Ecotype
Cornus florida, PA Ecotype
Carex stipata, PA Ecotype