Q: Love your show. My son has an older home on the Boise Bench and a back yard that needs help. His question: How do I replace a yard with cheat-grass and weeds with full sun exposure using drought tolerant/native plants/shrubs? Can any seeds be bought in bulk?
A: Thanks for writing. This will be a short answer for what could be a long conversation. Does your son want to kill off the entire lawn and start over? If so, Round up is the best bet for that. However, Roundup only works on green plant tissue. The label will tell you how soon you may plant seed after using Round-up.
Cheat grass is dead now and has already dropped seed which will begin growing in early fall. It will sit dormant through the winter until early spring when it takes off and grows quickly and sets seed early (thus the green foothills in early spring). Broadleaf weeds may be annual or perennial and seeds from those plants are likely in the soil, too.
A pre-emergent is very effective in preventing seed from germinating but it affects ALL seed. Since you are looking for bulk seed, I’d probably suggest you don’t use a pre-emergent. Pre-emergent does not bother plants that are already growing.
For plants and seeds:
You can check with Draggin Wing Farms in Boise on Native and Xeric plants. They don’t have bulk seed. They are located at 5300 Stinger Dr. which is in NW Boise near Collister and Hill Road.
You might also contact the Idaho Native Plant Society. They have a plant sale each spring, usually at the Nature Center on Walnut. They may have seeds but most likely not bulk seed.
Thorn Creed Native Seed Farm is up in N. Idaho at Genesee. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call at 208.596.9122. On their website they have instructions for planting native seed. They have about 20 varieties of seed for the inland northwest.
Buffalo Berry Farm in McCall carries seed for upland and wetland grasses and also perennials. 51 E Lake Fork Rd, McCall, ID 83638 (208) 634-3062 email: buffaloberryfarm@frontiernet.
Outside of Idaho you might try, American Meadows. They took over High Country Gardens out of Denver and their seeds normally come from that area which is similar to ours. They carry all kinds of bulk seeds.
If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to write again, or call the radio show on Saturday mornings between 10-11. 580-5436.
I hope this is helpful. Good luck and Happy Gardening!