November 15, 2021 Site Preparation: Setting Your Restoration Up for Success Site preparation for prairie and shoreline restoration projects is the most important and sometimes the most challenging component in achieving successful ecological restorations. Site conditions and restoration goals factor into the preparation methods that we employ. Our overall goals are to substantially reduce weed competition, repair areas impacted by erosion, and stabilize sites during vegetation establishment. Site preparation could take between two weeks and up to a full growing season. Mechanical. Physically removing plant material and thatch is used to prepare the soil for seeding. We use a variety of tools and equipment, such as tractors, mowers, and weed whips. The specific methods that we employ is based on the size of the restoration, the quantity of plant material to be removed, soil conditions and slope. Timing is everything. Once a site is “opened up”, we are ready to get seed in the ground and then use appropriate erosion control techniques to safeguard against erosion. Chemical. Herbicides are an effective tool for ecological restorations. We are extremely conservative and judicious in how we use this management tool, we choose the proper herbicide to best prepare each specific project site. A state licensed herbicide applicator from Natural Shore Technologies ensures that herbicides are applied safely to protect their own health, the public, and the environment. Solarization. We are always eager to use alternatives to herbicides when possible, such as mechanical removal or “solarization”. This is most commonly used when turf areas are transformed to prairie. This is a process that involves covering the target area with a material, typically black plastic, for at least a couple of months. Sunny days will generate intense heat which will eventually kill the covered vegetation. As a bonus, the process is sometimes so effective that the weed seeds in the soil are also eliminated. No matter what stage your project is in, Natural Shore is happy to assist with site preparation for prairie and shoreline restoration. Reach out to us today for a consultation. Depending on the site conditions and plant species present, we will recommend the best method for site preparation to ensure your project is a success.