Friday, March 14, 2008

Little House by the Prairie

Prairies once covered 9,400,000 acres in Wisconsin.
Now prairies grow on fewer than 12,000 scattered acres Wisconsin

Enviro Girl lives on 60 rural acres--woods, wetlands and farm fields. Her house is on a former hayfield--when it was built, a lot of people speculated about what would happen on the rest of the property. Locals were convinced that a subdivision was going in and they waited for more basements to appear like potholes across the landscape.

Instead, Enviro Girl and Team Testosterone mowed paths and planted hundreds of tree seedlings. They also planted a prairie. Within a couple of years, one acre became a bright yellow flag of color and neighbors started walking back on the path to investigate. Enviro Girl invited them to pick bouquets of wildflowers--she's partial to a blue vase full of Black-Eyed Susans on her kitchen table. Throughout the summer and into fall, over twenty different native flowers and grasses now grow on a 2-acre plot to the west of Enviro Girl's house. (By the time she's done, 5 acres of prairie will thrive in a strip between tree seedlings and the woods.)

As part of an attempt to restore 20 acres to the northeast of her little house, Enviro Girl will plant 5 acres of prairie this June. Enivro Girl loves prairies--the crazy mix of plants insures a healthy biodiversity. All kinds of critters, birds and bugs like living in a prairie. Prairie plants have deep roots, they're drought and disease-resistant--built tough enough to endure frigid Wisconsin winters and hot dry Wisconsin summers. Enviro Girl also appreciates the power of prairies to absorb CO2--prairies are called "Carbon Dioxide Swamps" because they take in more than they release--talk about erasing carbon footprints!

Enviro Girl also adores prairies because they're a maintenance-free way to landscape. Trees, while beautiful, require pruning and clean up. Prairies, once established (this takes 7 years, so prairies aren't for impatient people), need mowing or burning every five years and that's it. No other flower garden offers so many environmental benefits for so little effort.


  1. How cool. I can't wait to see pictures!

  2. Go Enviro Girl!
    Well done Melissa - no only is it healthy - it looks gorgeous!

    Also reminds me of being about six years old and wanting to live on "Little house on the Prairie".....ahh!
    Was that filmed in the same area?

  3. wow. Beautiful.
    How do you plant prairies? I'm imagining a scattering of wild flower seeds...?

    The problem here is that the tall grasses would invite deer ticks.

  4. Sounds gorgeous! Take oodles of pics later for your devoted readers to see!

  5. Wow. What a great mission to have. Lots of photos on the blog, yes?

    So when you plant the next five acres, do you do it alone (just the immediate family) or do you call in reinforcements, sort of like an old fashioned barn raising?

  6. wow, wonderful. We live in city, but used to own the world's smallest prairie (2' x 1.5') -- and 90 species of plants on a 50x125 lot. Yeay bees :)

  7. I love wild flowers and will have to come to see them with Sarah this spring...I think that you are "rushing" the season, because in Wis they do not bloom until late May...but a nice thought!!!

  8. Do you have to pinch yourself? I can't imagine being surrounded by such beauty. You are kind of living my dream.

  9. How wonderful. I would love to do that. On my measly acre though? Not likely. (Mr. Hot would like to not have to mow except every 7 years, too!)

  10. This sounds wonderful. Can't wait to see more photos.

  11. What a fabulous project! Can't wait to see more pictures!


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