How Does Your Prairie Grow?

When you walk the paths at Kokosing Nature Preserve, and marvel at the beauty of its prairie, rest assured that there is a plan in place to continually protect and enhance that beauty for all to enjoy.

By Amy Henricksen, KNP steward

The prairie at Kokosing Nature Preserve was planted in November of 2014. Almost eight years later, that prairie is a sight to behold — particularly at this time of year. The prairie typically peaks in late July and early August when a wide variety of native wildflower species are blooming. As the prairie grows and evolves, however, an intentional approach to the management of that prairie is required to ensure its continued health and exceptional beauty.

Various techniques are employed to control for invasive plant infestations and to prevent new invader species from becoming established at the preserve. Mowing is one invasive management technique utilized. For example, the prairie at Kokosing Nature Preserve is mowed each fall in late September/early October while the Canada goldenrod is blooming to prevent it from becoming a dominant species in our prairie. Prescribed burns are another approach used to eliminate woody variety of invasive species, with burns typically conducted in early spring. Additionally, Kokosing Nature Preserve uses a contract naturalist to manually remove other prevalent invasive species, such as Canada thistle, bull thistle, burdock and pokeweed, avoiding the use of toxic herbicides. 

There are also isolated sections of the prairie at Kokosing Nature Preserve where the wildflowers have failed to take hold, and targeted intervention is required to rehab and beautify those areas. This summer we are working with our sister green center, the Kenyon Farm, to undertake a soil solarization project. Soil solarization is a non-chemical environmentally friendly method for destroying the seedbank using solar power to increase the soil temperature to levels at which many soil-borne plant pathogens will be killed or greatly weakened. Farm Manager Bethany McCarty and her farm students have mowed, tilled and covered two targeted areas at Kokosing Nature Preserve with clear plastic sheeting, which will remain in place for approximately two months (pictured below). These areas will be reseeded with prairie seed in late fall/early winter, and we will anxiously wait until next spring and summer to see the results of this shared project.

Kokosing Nature Preserve is open daily, from dawn to dusk, and all are encouraged to walk the paths at the preserve and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the space. Anyone interested in learning more about purchasing interment rights can contact us at 740-427-5040 or via email at