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Wildflowers on a slope! Every year, we get questions from all over the country on this subject. "Can we plant on a slope? Will our seed wash away? What about erosion?" Here are two different gardeners who solved all the problems with great results.
Erin, one of our long-time employees, is always up for experimenting and planting new varieties on her property in Northern Vermont. This spring, the Seed Man prepped a 4,000 square ft. sloped area on her property to plant a variety of wildflowers, including our Northeast Mix, Black Eyed Susans, Zinnias, Cosmos and more. The results were spectacular! This hard-to-reach sloped area is now bursting with wildflowers that require little water and maintenance.
This sloped area on Erin's property is visible from the road, so she wanted to plant something there that would create curb appeal but not require much maintenance. Wildflowers are a great option for sloped garden beds or meadows because most annual varieties sprout quickly. This means their roots grow quickly, which makes them less susceptible to being washed away in a rainstorm. Erin chose a wildflower mixture that had both annuals and perennials in it (our Northeast Mix) so she wouldn't have to keep re-seeding the area each year.
Mike used a tractor to dig up the existing grass, then rototilled the area to loosen the soil. Whenever you're planting wildflowers -- especially if it's in a hard-to-reach area like a slope -- soil preparation is key. Seeds requires good contact with the soil in order to germinate and the more prep you can do, the better.
After Mike prepped the soil, he spread the seed by hand and used a roller to compact the seed into the soil. This is a key step, especially for this sloped area. If you're planting a smaller area, you can simply walk on the seed after planting to compress it. This compression helps prevent seed from washing away in the rain and also improves germination rate.
As you can see by the photos below, the results were impressive throughout the season, starting at the end of July and lasting through September. Erin and her daughter Lily enjoyed the colorful blooms and had plenty to cut for bouquets.
Two years later, Erin's family has grown by one (a daughter, Abby), and the wildflower meadow on the slope is still as colorful as ever! Erin says they add a little more seed each year to fill in the bare spots but that the area is still extremely low maintenance. It blooms from May all the way into the fall and brings their family joy each season. Erin snapped these photos over the summer of 2017.
Our members, Dot and Pete Ramsdell, live in a famously beautiful spot near Cavendish Village, Vermont. There they have a charming log home with rolling lawns and mountain scenery, but there was one problem. The house sits on a hill, and just in front, the ground slopes toward a large lawn at an angle of 45 degrees. The slope made the view from the house beautiful, but as with all steep slopes, it made mowing difficult. So several years ago, the Ramsdells tried planting the slope, but as as Pete writes, "Weeds and grasses overtook our original plantings. It was time to reseed." They decided to try wildflower seeds on the sloping area, instead of grass.
"This time, I knew preparation was key. In late fall, four years ago after mowing the original patch we applied Roundup to the whole area with our ATV sprayer attachment. In the spring we again applied Roundup to kill any remaining grass and weeds. Because of erosion concerns we did not rototill. Instead we lightly scratched the surface with a york rake, leaving the old roots intact, but providing a seed bed for new seeds. We hand-sowed the Northeastern Mixture as per your directions, and Mother nature took over from there. We have been told by many that the results are spectacular."
We couldn’t agree more. And we thank Pete and Dot for sharing not only their beautiful photos, but a great, clear explanation on how it was done.
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