Create a Meadow

Lawn alternatives, such as meadows (areas with growing grasses and wildflowers) have much to offer and are available to every homeowner with a sunny piece of land. Although the maintenance of a meadow is simply a matter of mowing the meadow one or few times per year with a weedwacker or a brush hog, it can be hard to find a landscaper familiar with the maintenance of meadows. Also, since there are many ways to establish a meadow, it can be difficult to take the first steps. Here we have suggestions. Since ‘meadowscaping’ is fairly new, we love to hear about your experience. Feel free to contact us any time for questions about and/or suggestions for meadows:

The Laissez-Faire Meadow

The easiest way to create a meadow? Select a sunny part of your lawn and stop mowing. This will result in your lawn grasses growing and producing seeds. Many of those grasses will flop over after seed production and dry out. Your meadow will look messy. But by then, your new meadow will already be discovered and filled with crickets, hoppers, skippers, dragonflies and birds! In the years following, clump forming grasses will slowly take over from the carpet forming grasses. Clump forming grasses are stiffer and will add to the beauty of the meadow. Simply enjoy its disorganized liveliness, or, if you want to mitigate the messy look, mow some clean edges and paths through the meadow or create clean lines with hedges, walls or fences.

The Natural Meadow

A natural meadow and a prairie ecosystem develop after fires, grazing or by haying practices. When carpet forming lawn grasses are cut less often, they will invest more in vertical and less in horizontal growth, and after flowering and setting seed these grasses lose rigor or die off, which will encourage clump-forming grasses and wildflowers to take over. The cutting and removal of clippings will also prevent shrubbery to move in. If you keep repeating the process of mowing and removing the clippings, your meadow will become more biodiverse and colorful over time.

The Freestyle meadow

Once the carpet-forming grasses start disappearing, bare spots in soil will start to show up. You can use these spots to fill with seeds or plugs (baby plants) of your choosing. This will add to the biodiversity and esthetic value of your meadow. It will also give specific plant species time to establish before invasives can conquer the spot. Planting is best done in early spring or fall. Since weeds and invasives grow faster, and often earlier in the season, you’ll need to mow in the spring to let the sun reach the preferable species and give them a chance to establish.

The Designer’s Meadow

If you have the budget, why not let a professional landscaper design a wonderful meadow for you? Generally, they will start with a ‘clean canvas’, which means the removal of all the grasses and weeds before they seed or plant plugs. In the beginning when the new plants are still small, invasive species and weeds need to be controlled. Often this service is included in the meadow installation.

Our hope is that eventually more landscapers will get familiar with meadow maintenance practices. A meadow is a living thing and grows and changes over time. Meadow mowing, but also hand weeding and managing more rigorous species in favor of more modest perennials and annuals, is a valuable service and it will give landscapers a sustainable alternative to the harmful conventional practices they are used to offering. By asking for these meadow services, we hope that we can create the financial incentive the landscaping business needs to change.

Find Plants

To find the right plants for your meadow, click here for a plant finder >