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When and How should I Plant the Plants on my Dune?


Is this a good time of the year to be planting a dune?

The best time to plant dune species is while they are dormant, which happens in winter and early spring.  By April or early May the plants have broken dormancy.  As a result, dune vegetation should be planted between late fall and to Memorial Day. In some years, planting into early June at the latest may work. After that date, the risk of plant failure goes up exponentially. If you must plant dunes later in the season, using plugs rather than bareroot plants will increase survival, but will increase the cost of your project since plugs are generally more expensive.


bullet How to plant beachgrass

Plants need to be installed deeply for better survival. For instance, beachgrass stems should be planted so 2/3 of the stem is in the sand. Planting 2 stems/hole is sufficient. (The old recommendation was 3 stems.) This is referred to as a planting unit. 


Contrary to earlier suggestions (e.g. army corps of engineers) Plantings should be irregularly spaced and offset from one another rather than in straight rows approximately 24 inches apart, 7-9 inches deep, throughout designated planting area(s).  The plants in the picture to the right are planted too close, in a straight line and WAY too shallow.  Its the perfect "how not to" plant beach grass picture!


Pictured here are two tools commonly used when planting American beach grass in sand dunes: A straight blade shovel and a "pogo" style planter. During times of adequate rainfall and good soil moisture, the pogo planter is adequate. During dry times, the small hole normally made by the pogo planter will instantly backfill with sand once the tool is pulled out. The shovel then becomes a necessity.



Once you are done, don't forget to install a "KEEP OFF THE DUNE" signs because dune plants are extremely sensitive to trampling and a few people walking over your newly planted dune can completely ruin all of your hard work!

Click here to learn about other ways you can help your newly planted dune plants to thrive

For a list of suiable plants,  click here or visit the Cape May Plant Materials Center website:

Content of these pages was contributed by Chris Miller, Jon Miller, Michael Peek, Ray Bukowski, and Louise Wootton.  Edited by Louise Wootton.