Prairies are ecosystems dominated by herbaceous plants—mostly grasses, sedges, and flowering plants called forbs. Prior to European settlement, prairies stretched across the plains and parts of the Midwest, from Texas to Canada and from Colorado to regions in Indiana. Prairies served, and continue to serve, a vital role in providing ecosystem services like erosion control, water filtration, and pollinator and wildlife habitat across the US. As cities, industry, and the general population have grown, prairies have been converted to farmland, cities and towns, shopping malls, turf grass lawns, and business districts, taking their beauty, habitat, and contribution of ecosystem services with them.
Even though most of Indiana has historically been covered by forest or woodland, portions of the state were natural prairies or open oak savannas, which had some trees but consisted mainly of open grasslands. There are many benefits to converting land to prairie for both our ecosystem and for our enjoyment. (Excerpt from Creating and Maintaining a Prairie: A guide for native plantings in your Indiana yard of any size. Here is a link to the .pdf of the guide. If you would like a hard copy of this comprehensive resource, please contact our office at (260) 665-3211 ext. 3 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In addition to the guide, the Steuben County SWCD offers cost-share programs that can make installing a native planting more affordable. Technical assistance is also available. Please contact our office to learn more.
There are also many online resources available to get you started on your native planting adventure. Check out information from the Indiana Native Plant Society, the Pollinator Partnership, and Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.