Friday, June 6, 2008

Prairie Dogs


When we moved to the country, the house we bought needed its septic drainfield replaced, and because we are in a watershed with a high water table, it needed to be a mound system. Imagine having a four foot tall pile of coarse sand to look at out your living room window!

Usually septic mounds are planted with lawn grass to blend in to the rest of the lawn. But this requires regular mowing, and running a mower over the mound can wear it down and speed its demise.

Research informed me that cooperative extension services recommend planting prairie plants on your mound, so that you can avoid the weekly mowing. And a huge benefit is the plants provide food and shelter for wild birds and animals. (The downside is when rabbits put their nests on the mound, and the dogs find the helpless babies...)

So I got my hands on a bag of seed and planted. This will be the third summer of our septic prairie and it's really coming into itself. Right now the grasses are seeding and the coreopsis is in full bloom. I also have what I think is lead plant in a few places -- gorgeous! (Well, it turns out that the "lead plant" is actually cow vetch, a non-native that's probably drifted in from the surrounding farms. It's still gorgeous!)

There are times when the seed pods on the prairie plants become torturous in the dogs' coats, but most of the year the movement of the grasses and the changing colors of the forbs make for a wonderful living room view!

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