Landgarten von Jutta und Michael Bongers am Niederrhein

Garden column: Prairie garden

Garden column: Prairie gardenAt the start of the current garden column, I would like to write something worth knowing and hopefully interesting about the prairie garden type of garden. Based on our own experiences and a workshop from last September, a summary of it here.


1. What is a prairie garden?

a. Flowering in the 2nd half of the year – warm season plants
b. Grasses & Perennials from North America
c. More robust and less sensitive to climatic stress
(Heat, wetness, wind, storm, drought)
d. Less maintenance
e. Pour little to no water
f. Insect-friendly & bird-friendly
G. Long-lasting = sustainable
H. Less pruning


2. Difference to classic perennial borders and natural meadows

• Natural meadows: spring to early summer (mowing)
• Perennial border: spring to summer (cut back)
• Prairie: summer to autumn (winter cut)


3. Planning:

a. Location
i. Well drained, good soil
ii. Sunny,> 4 hours (better 6)

b. Size & shape
i. Small beds – quiet planting
ii. Medium beds –
iii. Large areas – close to nature, a lot

c. Colors & heights

d. Perennials & grasses
i. 30 – 40% grasses // 60 – 70% perennials

e. Appearance / composition:
i. Quiet, formal, natural,
ii. Drifts / groups / arbitrary

f. walkways


4. Planting:

a. Time (May – July)
b. Soil preparation!
i. Humos
ii. Profound
iii. Not too dry, not too wet
iv. Weeds gone
c. Plant selection
i. Well rooted
ii. Watering / diving
iii. If in doubt, prune back when planting
d. Mulch yes / no

Plant choice:
Each plant has a role:
Function types:
• Scaffolding plants
• Aspect plants
• Companion plants
• Filling plants (migrating plants)
• Litter plants (bulbs)


5. Addresses

Show gardens / parks:

a. Hermannshof exhibition and viewing garden in Weidenheim
b. Maximilianpark Alter Grenzweg 2, 59071 Hamm
c. Oudof Garden, Somerset at Hauser & Wirth,
d. Gardens of Appeltern,

Nurseries with show plantings:

e. Lianne’s Siergrassen, Netherlands
f. Jan Spruyt, Belgium
G. Chris Ghyselen, Belgium


6. Recommended literature (own choice):

a. Prairie garden – fascinating and atmospheric: Laurence Machiels / Ulmer Verlag
b. Hermannshof exhibition and viewing garden: Cassian Schmidt / Ulmer Verlag
c. In the sea of ​​colors of a prairie garden: Romeis / Bieker / Pot // DLV


7. Additions at the end

• Tip: Read and visit a lot. Before creating a prairie garden, it is advisable to read about this topic and to visit parks or show gardens.

• Perennials and grasses grow bigger by themselves. Especially grasses! That is why we have chosen the division between 30% grasses and 70% perennials.
• Choose clumpy plants or plants that do not have too much urge to spread
• Mixed plantings: It doesn’t have to be a classic prairie bed exclusively with plants from North America. We have also planted perennials such as persicaria, limestone and catnip in our prairie border.

Everyone has a pleasant rest of Sunday !


Michael Bongers

Uedemerbruch, 07th November