Direct Seeding Shrubs

Published on: Sep. 5, 2009

What if there was a simpler way? What if all you had to do was kill the grass, disk up a spot, throw out some seed and then harrow the site?

Landowners interested in creating good quail habitat should have 10 to 25 percent of each “quail unit” or field in shrubby cover. Shrubby cover can be created by edge feathering, creating downed tree structures, enhancing native shrub thickets and planting shrubs. When planting shrubs many people use bare root or container-grown plants. However, shrubs can also be established by seeding if you follow a few critical steps.

The first step to site preparation is choosing the correct location and size for the CHQ. Select at least a 30-by-50-foot area (1,500 square feet) adjacent to early successional vegetation, along a woodland edge, or a disturbed area such as a food plot. Do not select locations that are prone to erosion or show signs of active erosion as these sites often do not have sufficient nutrients to support a successful shrub planting.

image of site preparationNext, kill the existing vegetation and prepare a firm seedbed. The goal is to eliminate any existing vegetation that will compete with the shrub seeds for nutrients and sunlight. This includes both cool-season grasses and native warm-season grasses. First apply a herbicide, such as glyphosate, to kill any and all competing vegetation. For spring seedings, begin site preparation in the previous fall with a spring follow-up. For fall seedings, begin site preparation in mid-summer with an additional early fall follow-up. Then prepare a clean seedbed by disking the site with a disk or roto-tiller. Depending on the existing stand of vegetation, several passes with a disk may be required to create a clean site (see picture below). The most important step in a direct shrub seeding is to prepare a clean, firm seedbed. Before broadcasting the seed, firm the site by cultipacking (rolling) the seedbed.

Some of the preferred native species of shrubs to use in direct seedings are American plum, Prunus americana, false indigo, Amorpha fruticosa, choke cherry, Prunus virginiana, common elderberry, Sambucus Canadensis, common blackberry, Rubus allegheniensis, aromatic sumac, Rhus aromatica and shrub dogwood Cornus sp. Shrub dogwood should only be used as a component in a seeding and not as a single species planting. If deer predation is an issue, planting species such as false indigo, aromatic sumac and blackberry may be more

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