Seed Mix Establishment: Preparing the Final Seed Bed

Achieving good seed to soil contact requires a well-tilled finely graded soil surface prior to planting. The soil should be prepared according to the type of planting method you will use:

Preparing for Hand Broadcast Seeding
If you are seeding a smaller area by hand broadcasting, rake or drag the soil with a rake or drag (a length of chain link fence attached to a garden tractor or ATV works well to smooth soil which has been freshly tilled).

Preparing for Mechanical Seedings
If your site is one half acre or larger, seeding mechanically using a Brillion Drop Seeder or similar implement is ideal. A Brillion’s heavy cast iron packing wheels ensure firm seed to soil contact.

If seeding a large site, No-Till Drills or Slit Seeders are best (Tye, Truax, and John Deere, etc). This equipment requires a smooth, level soil surface, with little or no tilling. Tilling will only expose more weed seeds from the seed bank in the soil below, and is not recommended when using no-till drills and slit seeders.

Organic Process
Wait for a good spring rain after the site is fine-graded. This will stimulate weed seeds in the soil to germinate. Five-to-seven days after the rain, till the soil very lightly, no more than one inch in depth (a field drag works admirably for this job). This will kill the newly germinated weeds before they emerge from the ground. We recommend dragging or tilling in mid-morning of a warm, sunny day, so that the weed seedlings will be killed by the heat of the sun. Plant immediately.

A Final Pre-planting Tip
If planting in late spring or early summer, you can reduce weed densities by applying a Glyphosate herbicide to the site when newly-sprouted weeds are two to three inches tall. Wait 10 days after spraying, till the soil very lightly, less than one inch if possible (tilling deeper will only bring up more weed seeds).  Smooth planting surface. Plant immediately.

Up next: Planting the Prairie Seed


Designed for areas of 1000 square feet or more, we’ve designed 24 native seed mixes for virtually any soil or condition:  http://www.prairienursery.com/store/seed-mixes


Establishing a native plant seed mix is a long-term investment in your landscape, which requires careful planning. When questions arise a one-on-one conversation may be the best way to get the information you need. Don’t hesitate to call us at 800-476-9453, Mon. – Fri., 8am – 5pm, CST. Or, email us at cs@prairienursery.com. We are happy to discuss individual complexities in order to make your planting a success.