Despite drought and floods, prairie planting takes root in the UK


Prairie planting is a type of gardening that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The natural prairies of North America inspire this style of planting, and it is characterized by its use of native grasses, wildflowers, and other plants adapted to drought and flooding conditions.

There are several reasons why prairie planting is becoming so popular in the UK. First, it is a low-maintenance way to create a beautiful, wildlife-friendly garden. Prairie plants are naturally drought-tolerant, so they do not require a lot of watering. Compared to other plant varieties, they have a higher resistance to pests and diseases.

Second, prairie planting can help to mitigate the effects of climate change. Prairie plants can store carbon in the soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they have the ability to enhance the quality of air and minimize the occurrence of flooding.

Finally, prairie planting is simply beautiful. Combining grasses, wildflowers, and other plants creates a stunning and naturalistic landscape.

If you are interested in creating a prairie garden in your backyard, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you will need to choose a location that gets full sun. Prairie plants need a lot of sunlight to thrive.

Second, you will need to prepare the soil. Prairie plants prefer sandy or loamy soil that is well-drained. If your soil is heavy or clayey, you must amend it with sand or compost.

Third, you will need to choose the right plants. Many different prairie plants are available, so you can select the ones that work best in your climate. Some popular choices include:

  • Stipa tenuissima (feather grass)
  •  Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)
  •  Echinacea purpurea (coneflower)
  •  Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed Susan)
  •  Liatris spicata (prairie blazing star)

Once you have chosen your plants, you can plant them in the spring or fall. Prairie plants are relatively easy to care for but need some water during the first year after planting. After that, they should be able to survive on rainfall alone.

Prairie planting is a beautiful and sustainable way to garden. If you are looking for a low-maintenance way to create a wildlife-friendly garden, then prairie planting is a great option.

“These plants are perfect for being drought-tolerant once you establish them,” Grayshaw said. “Plant and water them for a year, and then you can wean them off being watered. They are great for the changing climate in the UK as they can deal with drought and sustained rainfall.”

Grayshaw said she preferred this type of planting to a more Mediterranean style suited to a very arid climate. “It is tempting after a drought to go for a Mediterranean approach. But I think North American planting is much more transferable to the UK than the Mediterranean. I love Mediterranean planting, but it’s all about gravel and drainage and keeping it dry when England does get wet. It’s about having excellent drainage; if not, your lavender will go soggy because it’s not meant to be there then.”

She said it was much easier to grow this planting style because you plant it and go, and she was working with schools to create low-maintenance prairie meadows. “I’m dealing with a school at the moment. I’m just going to plant the whole thing out with grasses because that means the caretaker, on a limited budget, can go into January and cut down the whole lot. Then it all comes back for the next year and keeps going all the way through the year.”

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Marta Lopez

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