Prairie Gardens in Minnesota: 101

Prairie Gardens
Prairie flowers bloom in August

Minnesota’s landscapes are a testament to our state’s natural beauty, and one of the most captivating garden styles that homeowners can embrace is the prairie garden. Prairie gardens are not only a nod to the region’s ecological heritage but also a sustainable and visually stunning choice for your outdoor space.

At Minnehaha Falls Landscaping, we can transform your yard into a thriving, low-maintenance oasis celebrating Minnesota’s natural flora and fauna. Let’s make a prairie paradise right in your backyard!

What is a Prairie Garden?

A prairie garden mimics Minnesota’s native prairie landscape, which once covered a significant portion of the state. These gardens are characterized by their diversity of grasses, wildflowers, and perennials, providing a habitat for local wildlife and promoting biodiversity. Once established, they’re designed to be sustainable, requiring minimal water and fertilizers, making them an eco-friendly choice.

Why Should I Plant a Prairie Garden?

Prairie gardens can have a huge impact on your local ecosystem and your seasonal workload. Here are just a few benefits of planting one in your outdoor space.

  1. They’re Low Maintenance. Once established, prairie gardens require minimal upkeep. Native plants are adapted to local conditions, meaning they need less water and are more resistant to pests and diseases.
  2. You’ll Be Providing Ecological Harmony. Prairie gardens support local wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects. They help restore natural habitats and promote biodiversity.
  3. Enjoy the Aesthetic Appeal. Their dynamic and ever-changing beauty offers year-round interest with seasonal blooms, textures, and colors.
  4. You’ll Contribute to Your Soil Health. Native prairie plants have deep root systems that improve soil structure, enhance water infiltration, and prevent erosion.
  5. They Are Low Water Use. Once established, prairie plants are drought-tolerant, which is ideal if you want to enjoy a beautiful garden without having to adhere to a strict watering schedule.

How We Put Together Your Prairie Garden

Curious about how we do what we do? Great! Here’s how we use thoughtful planning for the optimal prairie garden layout.

First, we’ll conduct a site assessment, evaluating your garden’s soil, light conditions, and moisture levels. Prairie plants typically thrive in full sun and well-drained soils, but there are native plant species suited for a variety of conditions, including full shade.

Then, together, we can choose a mix of grasses, wildflowers, and perennials native to Minnesota. Usually, we do a mix of 80% grasses and sedges (a grass-like plant with triangular stems), using a mix of warm—and cool-season species and 20% wildflowers or forbs (herbaceous flowering plants).

Some popular choices include:
Grasses: Little Bluestem, Big Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed
Wildflowers: Purple Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Wild Bergamot, Asters, Goldenrod, Prairie Smoke
Shrubs: Serviceberry Regent, Prairie Willow, Red Twig Dogwood

From there, we’ll plan out the prairie garden layout. Usually, we aim for a mix of heights, colors, and bloom times to ensure year-round interest and beauty, but the conditions of your space will determine this. We want to make sure this landscaping is set up for success!

Finally, it’s time to dig in! We’ll remove existing vegetation and amend the soil with compost. Then, we’ll plant your prairie garden, considering what each species needs.

Do Prairie Gardens Require a Lot of Maintenance?

No, prairie gardens are blessedly low maintenance, although they require some additional commitment at first to get everything established. During the first year, you’ll want to water regularly to establish roots, but after that, your new garden will need less frequent watering.

During the first few years, weeds can be controlled by hand weeding, seeding, and laying down mulch. However, once established, prairie plants tend to outcompete most weeds. Annual mowing can help maintain its health and appearance. You can remove the cut plants or leave them there as mulch!

Along the way, we’re always here to answer your questions.

New England Aster

Work With Nature, Not Against It

At Minnehaha Falls Landscaping, we’re deeply passionate about designing and implementing prairie gardens that flourish and provide visual and ecological enjoyment for years to come. In fact, we’ve planted over 100,000 native plants right here in Minnesota! Whether you’re looking for a complete garden overhaul or a few additions, we’ll guide you every step of the way.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us today. We look forward to bringing the beauty and resilience of Minnesota’s prairies to your outdoor space!

As the education and advocacy branch, we work with community partners to create safe places for our pollinators, one garden, yard, business, school, church, conversation at a time. We know that together, we can build the buzz! Learn More
As the construction branch of Minnehaha Falls Landscaping, we build outdoor decks, steps, railings, pergolas, fences, and planters. When it gets colder, we step inside to remodel living spaces with creativity and craftsmanship, including cabinetry. Learn More
As the gardening branch, we work within your landscape to grow plants, flowers, shrubs and woodland gardens that are beautiful, restorative, and safe for birds, people, pets, and pollinators. We also install bee-friendly lawns and do spring and fall clean-up. Learn More

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Call us at 612-724-5454 to see what is possible with landscape design and construction, organic gardening, and indoor remodeling.