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September 2015


I am a member of the Tree Board in Maumelle. We have taken on the project of redoing the Wildflower Garden (approx. 50 ft. X 20 ft.) in the city park on the shores of Lake Willastein. The garden presently has few wildflowers and lots of grass, almost waist high in places. We have been getting ideas on how to go about this. Some think we should mow the area as close as possible this fall, spray something to kill everything, spread a very heavy layer of mulch, let the area lie fallow over the fall and winter, and then start with a blank slate in the spring. If we do this, what product would you recommend to spray, and will we indeed be able to safely plant wildflowers next spring? Another option is that we purchase heavy black plastic and stake and cover the entire area until next spring, which would kill all the vegetation without using harmful chemicals. This idea would certainly be safer, although possibly be more expensive and perhaps too labor intensive.  If possible, we would also like to involve the community (boy's and girl's clubs, Friends of the Park, etc.) and combine a fall Arbor Day project with redoing the wildflower garden by planting small native trees (red bud, etc.?) and shrubs on the edges of the garden. If we spray the area, avoiding the areas where the trees will be planted, can we still safely plant them this fall? If so, how much distance should we leave between the sprayed area and the planting sites? We definitely need your advice!


AnswerAll are viable options, but if you have well established grass and weeds, I doubt any of them will completely kill out all your grass and weed problems. I would definitely start by getting the area mowed as close as possible. The problem you are going to have is that if the area has been allowed to run amok for a while even if you mow and kill the existing grass and weeds now or this winter, the area probably has a wealth of weed seeds that will come up next year--herbicides kill the weeds and grass, not the seeds. I would consider mowing, and tilling the area, then covering with plastic. Then next spring, uncover and till again. Let the weeds and grasses germinate and start to grow, then spray with Round-up or other non-selective herbicide, mulch the area and consider planting sunflowers or some other annual crop for the growing season to help with weed competition, then clean the area of all weeds and grass and sunflowers, then plant wildflowers next fall.  Planting trees or shrubs along the perimeter should not be a problem, just don’t spray them with any herbicides.  Make sure you mulch around them to keep weeds and grass at bay.  I know this is a huge project, but taking time to really start with a clean
weed free site will help. The biggest challenge with large wildflower gardens is grass and weeds




August 2010

QuestionWe would like to plant an acre wildflower meadow and haven't been able to find information for the central Arkansas area. We have questions on soil prep, planting time and killing grasses. Do you have any suggestions?


AnswerThe best time to plant wildflowers is in October. Start preparing your site now. Have your soil tested, kill out the grass and weeds and amend the soil if needed with compost. Round-up or a glyphosate product works well to kill the existing vegetation. Then this fall, broadcast the seeds -- use a mix of annuals and perennials, so that you will have flowers the first year. Then lightly cover with mulch or roll the seed to make firm contact with seed and soil. Water and wait for spring.

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