Ask a Question forum: Wildflower area site preparation question

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Denver, CO
kellyckane
Apr 23, 2018 10:14 AM CST
I live in Zone 5, Denver, CO. I have chosen a nice mix of wildflower seeds for an area of our backyard that currently has no growth. Back in 2012, we covered the weed-filled area (after removing weeds) with weed barrier, then mulch. It remained a no-grow area for 6 years. We'd like to try wildflowers over there to attract pollinators and add color. So, this weekend, we removed the weed barrier and re-distributed the bark mulch, which is at a depth of about 4 inches. The soil beneath the mulch is very clayey. What is the best way to prep the site for wildflower seeds?

Should we incorporate the mulch into the existing soil to make the soil lighter and more aerated? Or should we completely remove the the mulch, till the clayey soil to a depth of around 2 inches, and place the removed mulch elsewhere in our garden? Or should we do something else to prep the site?

We know the wildflower seeds will grow in poor soil, will need good soil contact, should not be buried, and should be in an area with 6 hours of sunlight, and that they should be kept moist until 4-6 inches high. This area will work well for that. We're just not sure what to do with the existing mulch. The area is about 250 sq feet.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
josebaca
Apr 23, 2018 12:29 PM CST
Welcome! Kelly and hello from your southern neighbor ( about 130 miles away! )
Without asking a plethora of questions I think it would be safe to assume the seeds you bought are indeed compatible with your area, and being WILD flowers they won't really need much from you other than what you already stated. If your mulch was removed like I would do it, it's still on the weed barrier or piled next to its previous home, if so, then using a garden rake, I would remove the bigger less decayed pieces from it and evenly cover the plant area with it and plant my seeds on that, ( my opinion anyway ).
It should go without saying that since this used to be overgrown with weeds then there is a very good chance that most of the seeds you covered 6 years ago are still there and ready to sprout. If you're used to their presence, then you should be able to easily identify them and remove 'em,.....But, keep in mind that a lot of wildflowers look like weeds as well. I've planted, in 3 consecutive years, wild flowers in my back yard and still end up pulling what I thought were flowers every summer! Also check your package to see what kind of flowers are in there, I don't mind Marigolds as much as I used to but I vehemently detest Chinese forget me nots, if they are present then you would be better off cultivating sandbur.
Hope this helps,
J.R.
Denver, CO
kellyckane
Apr 23, 2018 12:56 PM CST
Hi! Thanks this is very helpful. I purchased a wildflower seed blend from High Country Gardens. It's called the Northeast Wildflower mix and . Although it's called "northeast", it's okay for Zone 5.

I think what I might do is remove the mulch to a different area adjacent to my grow area, till the soil a little (maybe an inch or so), and then wait for the dormant weed seeds to germinate. I will then remove those weed sprouts, replace the mulch minus the larger pieces (as much as I can), and then scatter my wildflower seeds. The weed barrier has already been removed, so I won't need to worry about that. Hopefully that will work! I like your idea of keeping the mulch material.

Thanks so much for your advice!
Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
josebaca
Apr 23, 2018 3:50 PM CST
I tip my hat to you. You're very welcome, good luck and good gardening.
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
Dog Lover Dragonflies
MindiHammerstone
Apr 23, 2018 4:29 PM CST
Welcome kellyckane Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

I am growing wildflowers this year as well. Iam in 9a. I also had a variety of seed packets that I didn't have a bed ready for so those went in as well lol.

Good luck with your gardening!!

😀

Mindi

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