A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction (Second Edition)

Author: Carl Kurtz

Guidebook for landowners who intend to plant prairies in their own backyards. Great starter guide filled with useful information for those new to prairie reconstruction.

A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction View larger



Author: Carl Kurtz

Guidebook for landowners who intend to plant prairies in their own backyards. Great starter guide filled with useful information for those new to prairie reconstruction.

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Data sheet

Author Carl Kurtz
Page count 80
ISBN 978-1-60938-168-4
Copyright date August 2013
Publisher University of Iowa Press
Edition Second Edition

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This is a small, straightforward guidebook for landowners who intend to plant prairies. In 2013, the author greatly enhanced this book for the second edition with new information to keep it up-to-date with the rapidly evolving science of prairie restoration. Along with this new information are new, high-quality photos, tables and other features to best illustrate this information.

However, this book is not perfect. The table describing herbicides is incomplete to the point that it causes confusion even to those well-versed in the subject. A section discussing Canada thistle control describes an incorrect application rate, seems to confuse the effects of glyphosate and triclopyr herbicides, and gives an overly-optimistic view of the potential impact of this invasive plant. The list of seed sources is out-of-date including many suppliers that had closed up shop even by 2013, and omitting several other options. (Contact Good Oak if you are looking for local seed/plant suppliers. We maintain an up-to-date list for Wisconsin and Illinois.)

If you’re planting your own prairie, I would consider this small, easy to read book a “must have”. Its a great starter guide as it will answer a lot of your questions and clear up many common misconceptions in a short time. However, I feel that most prairie planters would be best off chasing an additional guide as well, such as The Tallgrass Restoration HandbookThe Tallgrass Prairie Center Guide to Prairie Restoration and/or Restoring the Tallgrass Prairie.

From the Publisher:

Thirty-five years and many acres after planting his first patch of prairie flowers, Carl Kurtz is considered one of the deans of the great tallgrass prairie revival. The Prairie Enthusiast called the 2001 edition of his book a “readable and understandable introduction to prairie and the general steps in carrying out a reconstruction.” This second edition reflects his increased experience with reconstructing and restoring prairie grasslands.

Kurtz has completely revised every chapter of the first edition, from site selection and harvest to soil preparation, seeding, postplanting mowing, burning, and growth and development. He has written new chapters on establishing prairie in old pastureland and on the judicious use of herbicides, including a table that shows particular problem species, the types of herbicides that are most effective at controlling them, and the timing and method of treatment. New photographs illustrate species and steps. Kurtz has also expanded the question-and-answer section, updated the references and updated the section on midwestern seed sources and services.

Tallgrass prairie is critical wildlife habitat and an important element in flood control and stream water treatment. The process of reconstructing and restoring prairie grasslands has made great strides in recent decades. Carl Kurtz’s indispensable, step-by-step guide to creating a diverse and well-established prairie community provides both directions and encouragement for individual landowners as well as land managers working with government agencies and nonprofit organizations that have taken up the task of reconstructing and restoring native grasslands.


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