Do you want your plants to bloom in 2010?   If so, you’ll want to go with transplants.   Seedlings can often take three years to bloom.   It takes time for those seeds to properly grow nice, long roots.   Weeds will always be popping up to keep you on your toes as you await the bloom.   If costs are a major concern, sowing seeds is also less expensive than transplanting.   However, you may find transplants to be significantly more affordable by simply purchasing the smallest transplants you can find.   Space your plants one foot apart.   You’ll also want to use identification markers for your plants to help you remember what you planted (and especially for the more neophyte gardener, so as not to mistake a plant for a weed, although a seasoned gardener can easily make the same error).

On the subject of weeds crashing your party, stop at your local garden center and ask for a mulch with weed-free ingredients.   Clean straw is a good example of weed-free mulch.   Also, resist the temptation to pull weeds.   Cut them instead.   You don’t want to damage the roots of your fledgling natives, nor do you want to disturb your garden’s sacred foundation, the soil.   Pulling is another open invitation for weeds to join your garden party.   So, don’t pull.

If you decide to go with seedlings, cut your landscaped area to 6 inches during the first year to control weeds.   In their first year, your seeded natives won’t grow taller than 6 inches.   You may have heard about controlled burns in the Midwest being used to clear old vegetation and encourage new growth from the ash, which contains nutrients.   Don’t use fire in your home landscape.   It may be illegal in most cases, especially if near a building.

If you cut and remove debris from the area, you’ll get the same benefits as a natural fire cycle, as your cutting will allow sun exposure and thus growth.   Cut in the spring or fall.   You may even skip a few seasons and mix things up.   Vary your techniques and timing.   It will be reflected visibly in your garden, bettering your chances for more diverse plant growth.   Each technique caters to a specific native variety.   You will be amazed at the diverse plants in your garden by varying your techniques.

Welcome to the native garden party!

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