Quick Start - Create a meadow in your lawn

Are you committed to going wild and making a difference to wildlife while enhancing your enjoyment of your property? Are you ready to ditch the sterile lawn mono culture for something more relevant, beautiful, diverse, important and ecologically responsible? Great!

Look no further than your lawn. Lawns are generally in sunny locations and are perfect for a meadow. Meadows are beautiful and they can be small or large. They have been a source of inspiration for artists and poets, and for good reason. Meadows are one of the most diverse ecosystems and they provide enormous benefit to pollinators and wildlife. And to you too. You will be amazed at the activity in your meadow - from pollinators to birds to other wildlife. So take a walk on the wild side and consider a meadow to replace part of your lawn.

So, what is a meadow? A meadow is a field of highly diverse, densely populated native flowers, grasses and sedges. Meadows are found on the East Coast while Prairies are found in the Midwest. They are similar, but they have different plants. Let's look creating an Eastern meadow.

Here's the good news, meadows are easy. Once established they only need to be mowed once a year. That's it. They thrive on tough conditions and poor soil. Think of all the money and time you'll save.

Our goal is to give you simple solutions, so let's look at easy meadow creation tips and techniques.

Though when we think of a meadow a big field comes to mind, meadows can also be small areas in your lawn. Though meadows are generally in full sun locations, they can be created in partial sun areas. You can remove the grass in many ways, but since we promote easy gardening we recommend either smothering it with cardboard and/or newspaper or removing the top layer of sod with a shovel, aka scalping. If you will be creating a large meadow you will need more than these simple method so contact us for more information.

Once the spot is prepared it is time to plant. Meadows can be started from seed and this process will take 2 - 3 years. For faster results use plugs or container plants. Plugs provide you with baby plants at a reasonable price. Within a season you will have a meadow. Container plants, while much more expensive, give you a meadow instantly. Using a combination of container plants with plugs reduces the cost while providing immediate enjoyment. For a list of plug and native plant sources, contact a local gardener for her personal list of sources.

Here's the great news: once established, meadows are EASY. They don't require water, fertilizer or fussing. Just let them go and do their thing. You only need to mow a meadow once in the spring. That is it. You'll need to keep an eye out for fast growing invasive and weed seedlings, but that is true of any outdoor space in Westchester.

We highly recommend Catherine Zimmerman's book, Urban and Suburban Meadows. It is packed with easy to follow instruction on designing, preparing, planting and maintain a meadow.

What to plant in your meadow? Though you will be tempted to make it all wildflowers, resist that urge. Meadows have a high percentage of native Eastern cool weather grasses and this is what makes them so special and ecologically important. Remember to plant densely and with high plant diversity in a meadow.

Here are some plant ideas for your meadow:

  • This is a list from Virginia and many of the suggested plants will work in Ardsley too.

  • This is a great guide on creating and planting meadows from the Mt. Cuba Center. Though the center is located in Delaware, most plants are great for Ardsley.

  • Check out this very easy and visual guide to meadow plants from Credit Valley Conservation.