Seeding Over Time

I had my doubts…I really, really did. A good seed mix was crafted, with the planting and irrigation design, for establishment and during drought.

6/12 – young trees and shrubs…just an annual grass in the ponding / swale area is not even what I expected

I expected more variety, not just some rye. Sure it was hot, it was the 2nd seeding application, but there is irrigation. Then came July – harsh, worse than the summer of 2011.

7/12 – being teased with distant clouds isn’t as bad as seeing this…still not one sign of the several seed species in place…not one

On the 225 mile drive back to my former home that afternoon, then the unforgettable summer in many ways, always that last view in my mind. A year passed, and I was afraid to see this again on our meeting, given the first summer.

MV S Ph1-RevegE01_2013-10-22-SML
10/13 – what I expected to start over a year ago

This isn’t my first landscape design in the high desert, nor one using native seeding. I wonder why I was so deterred the first season?

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11/13 – seeding and other plants even better in autumnal hues…the Organ Mountains off the chart

I asked the developer and the golf course superintendent when they saw the change to the diversity of the mix, including if the contractor reseeded it again? No reseeding done; both agreed the change was in mid-summer (i.e. mild, wet July), then in early fall (i.e. Sept rain). When I added, “it sounds like lighter, spotty rains are more like 50% head-to-head irrigation cover, which couldn’t keep up with young seeding needs. Those heavier, consistent rains tell me 100% head-to-head irrigation coverage is still needed, even though not a lawn.” John the developer nodded in the affirmative.

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autumn big-time on Quercus buckleyi
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7/14 – dormant and the seeding still holding its own…success!

All parties played a role, not to mention the weather and time.

Do you ever think what grows with us? In spite of us?


4 Replies to “Seeding Over Time”

  1. Native seed are viable for so long. I’ll forget about packets of something I put out until they suddenly appear, and yes, usually after a period of rainier-than-usual weather. I’m glad your story has a happy ending but I’m wondering. Will you recommend boosting irrigation in that area now, or continue to wait it out? Is it better for the grasses to (continue to) germinate in response to weather cues so they’ll be in synchrony with local pollinators, birds, etc.?

    Very true, at least dryland seeds can wait out plenty of time until every need is met, then pow! I used to have curve-bill thrashers in my old courtyard accelerating that though…pulled out many mesquite and other volunteers in the day!

    A good ending; we’ll leave the irrigation on seeding as-is, but for future work, it will be head-to-head coverage since it’s a development and the goal is to look good faster. If it were a different situation, I’m all for timing reveg seeding with our late summer monsoon season…and if a dry one, then waiting until the next monsoon. That can take 3+ years, so not practical for a developer.


  2. Congratulations. I feel bad with all the drought you are contending with, but glad to see your project eventually succeeded. Nice that seeds can wait a long time until the time is right. I give thanks that I live where irrigation for native plants is rarely needed.

    I’ve seen studies that the SW came out of one of the wettest 2 decades in centuries, and this drought is far more typical of the long-term. At least our natives don’t need as much help once established, but some helps!


  3. Patience with native seeds is needed. Unlike commercially developed hybrids which germinate all at once, native seeds take their time. If they all germinated at the same and the moisture stopped, than a whole generation could be lost to drought. I’ve found it can take years for the seed of native desert plants to germinate and suddenly one day there is a flower from seed you had sown and forgot about. Native seed is very tricky. When I was growing commercially, I would have a whole flat of seed germinate, then replicate the exact conditions and have spotty or no germination at all of the same seed. I’m not surprised at all on the timing of this planting. If you can keep the weeds down, eventually the native plants will fill in.

    So much needs to come together, doesn’t it? But unlike hydroseeding Bermudagrass and watering it, it’s worth the wait. I’ll be posting close-ups of a couple areas that fall to show what it looks like, what’s in it (including a few weeds), and the density. Not all my seed mix was available, recalling my meetings and notes. But still quite impressive…


  4. Head to head irrigation seems to be the standard to me for establishment. I’m sure though that line item was not a priority in regards to the budget. Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t. I’m sure the warm season grass seed layed dormant until the rains.

    You’re back! Especially in the desert, head-to-head may be necessary to establish…but 50% of that (or no irrigation, timed w/ the monsoon season) are nice in theory, until practiced. I bet you are right; it responded only when moisture was right…


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