I want to replace my lawn with wildflowers. How do I prepare the soil?

Asked March 7, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

My front lawn is wide open with low fescue. I want to replace the whole thing with native wildflowers that will require minimal watering. I have a predominately sandy soil. How should I prepare it for planting? Do I need to add compost? Should I kill off the grass first? When is the best time to plant the seeds? What should I look for in a seed mix? Perennials vs annuals? How much should I water it and how often? What do I do at the end of the growing season - do I mow down the plants?

Deschutes County Oregon

1 Response

If you want to get rid of the grass you can either dig it out, a big job, or kill it with herbicides, glyphosate. Native flowers usually drop seed at the end of their flowering season the year before, then they sit through the winter and germinate the next year. If you have irrigation you can plant in the spring and irrigate the seeds up. If you want truly native flowers understand that their flowering period is usually short and you may not have much going on in the summer. Seed mix is totally up to you as to annual, perennials or biennials. Mowing them down at the end of the growing season is a good idea to help scatter seed that has formed. Have you thought about how you are going to keep weeds out of the area since the flowers are not going to form a carpet to inhibit weed growth? Using a mulch would be good except it will inhibit germination of new flowers too. Native plants don't need compost as they are used to growing in our poor sandy soil.