A question that comes up often when consulting with commercial clients is “What is the best way to sow a larger area?” In most cases they have some heavy duty equipment to work with, making the installation simple and cost effective for them. Some popular installation methods include hydroseeding, using a seed drill, or using a 3 point hitch spreader, all which are effective ways to sow a wildflower meadow. Hydroseeding – This machine is great for larger meadow plantings and is very effective for sloped areas as well. Although there are many types to choose from, they all include a large mixing tank to combine your wildflower mix with the “tackifier”/spreading agent. The combination is then pressure pumped through a hose and spread onto the area. This is a very cost effective way to quickly sow a larger area. Another benefit of using this method is the tackifier usually holds moisture, allowing for quick germination of the wildflower seed. Be aware that if the wildflower mix you are spreading includes any large seed such as Nasturtium, it may cause a problem by clogging the nozzle because of its large size. Seed Drill – These machines can also be very effective when it comes to sowing large areas. They are unique in the fact they “drill” the seed directly into the soil, with limited disturbance to the soil. I do recommend preparing/roto-tilling the area prior to drilling because if you do not, your seedling won’t have a fair chance of competing with existing growth in the soil. One drawback to using this equipment is if your mix contains a lot of smaller sized seed such as Papaver (Poppies), or Linaria (Snapdragon), it can be difficult to control the depth on these smaller seed varieties. Planting them too deep can hinder germination. Smaller seeds like this can sometimes be left out to later be hand broadcasted on the surface. 3-Point Hitch Spreader – This is probably the most popular and most cost effective method if you don’t have access to the above two machines. This spreader can be attached to most tractors or utility vehicles. Most “Rent-All” places will also have one if you only need it for a one-time application. You add your seed and sand mix, combine the two together and it then allows you to “broadcast” the seed evenly using a spinning motion. It can be adjusted to different settings to ensure a nice, evenly sown meadow at different RPM’s. Just remember to calibrate the setting for spreading at the smallest setting possible to start. You don’t want to broadcast too fast/thick. This may take a little “trial/error” to find the proper setting but, with a little patience, you should be able to dial it in. All three of these applications are very cost effective ways to install a wildflower meadow, with beautiful results for years to come. If you have any further questions about any of sowing methods don’t hesitate to contact me with you questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-877-309-7333 – ext. 12. Wishing you a prosperous spring season! The Seed Man
April 16, 2012.