Wildlife Habitat Federation

Helping Texas Landowners Restore Native Habitat For Wildlife 


When your field has reached a point where the undesirable plant species are gone or well under control, it is time to plant native prairie grasses. To get to this point, however, the practices listed under site preparation may need to be repeated through several seasons or years, depending upon the voracity of the unwanted plants. They may need to be changed as the plan is implemented to adapt to current weather patterns. WHF will monitor the property throughout the restoration period and make recommendations as needed.

Taking shortcuts or planting too soon can result in expensive fixes. 
Native prairie seeds are available, but can be costly.
Local ecotypes are more difficult to acquire.

It just makes sense to do it right the first time.

Plant Native Grass Seed

WHF uses no-till drills specially adapted for planting native prairie grass seeds. Three hoppers handle the fluffy seeds and allow for custom seed blends. The drill coulter wheels cut the soil open to receive the seeds, and the drill wheels finish up by pressing the soil back in place. This approach preserves the beneficial structure and microbial soil systems that are already in place.
With donations from landowners and other private sources, WHF was able to acquire a new 12.5' Truax No-till Drill. This drill allows WHF to plant almost any type of seed on larger tracts at a lower cost per acre. 
For smaller sites, WHF has a 5.5' Truax No-till Drill.
  Planting with a bail buster helps to expedite the spread of native grass hay. This process also adds beneficial humus to the soil adding to fertility and increasing the soils potential to hold moisture.    
When planting for restorations, WHF uses a mixture of commercially grown early-successional seed varieties and local ecotype seed. Over the years, this has proven the most effective method for establishment of healthy prairie for the long-term. The commercial seed provides ground cover for the first 1 to 3 years and eventually dies off. The local ecotype seeds do not emerge until the second or third year, replacing the commercial seed, providing longevity.
Plant Wildflowers
(a.k.a. Forbs and Pollinators)
Wildflower seed can be mixed in with and planted with your native grass seed using a no-till drill if your invasives are under control. If invasives re-emerge and require further herbicide treatment, you run the risk of also killing your forbs which tend to be the most costly of the native seeds.

One option is to plant them in your firelanes. If herbicide is necessary for invasive grasses in the field, it will be easier to avoid hitting the flowers. 

The safest approach is to wait (that patience thing again!) for a year or two after you confirm that your native grasses have become the dominant species in your field. At that point the wildflowers can be planted throughout the field.
Open the soil
Broadcast Seed
Press into soil 
It is important to scratch the surface of the soil, opening it up just enough to receive the forb seeds. In the above photo,  this is accomplished by dragging a spike-tooth harrow over the soil behind a Polaris Ranger.
Forb seeds are usually broadcast with a hand spreader for smaller areas, but a tractor and cone spreader works well for larger seedings.
After the seed is sown, it is important to press it into the soil. Above, a cultipacker is pulled behind a Polaris Ranger.


A healthy native prairie is diverse, made up of a variety of plant species that includes both grasses and forbs.
Photo by Taylor Keys
Photo by Taylor Keys
Photo by Taylor Keys
Photos starting top left to right: 1. Big Bluestem in native pasture, 2. Knotroot Bristlegrass, 3. Jill in Gallardia/Bald Cypress/ Coreopsis/Drummond Phlox, 4. Black-eyed Susan
Bottom left to right: 1. Yellow Indiangrass at MD Anderson Restoration Site, 2. Bald Cypress/ Coreopsis/ Drummond Phlox, 3. Yellow Indiangrass, 4. Jim Willis and Yellow Prairie Coneflower at Nash Prairie