Many Maryland gardeners would like to try planting a native meadow. It’s a great alternative to lawn care, and better for water quality, the climate, native plants, and pollinators.
People who set out on their first meadow making project face a set of common challenges:
- They underestimate how much labor is involved in creating and maintaining a meadow, so they start with a project that is much too large for them.
- They are not familiar with the plants native to a Maryland meadow, which ones to choose, what they look like throughout their life cycles, and there are no good resources for them to turn to for this information.
- They purchase seeds from distant seed vendors because locally native seeds are not commercially available, which decreases chances of project success and makes their project less beneficial to the environment.
- They lack the expertise needed to successfully order and use native seeds. It’s not like working with other garden seeds!
- When it comes time to remove weeds, they can’t tell the native plants from the weeds. You can’t maintain a meadow if you don’t know what the good guys look like!
The conventional approach to meadow projects requires an investment of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in seeds, supplies, and equipment, not to mention weeks of labor. Yet, in our experience, most Marylanders who undertake a meadow project experience disappointment and failure in the end.
In this blog, we offer an alternative for beginning meadow-makers, a modular meadow approach. Using this approach, you will create a small, pilot meadow using plugs purchased from local native plant producers. During the first year, you will plant your new meadow, then study the plants, becoming familiar with their needs and their appearance throughout the seasons. In the second year, you will have one successful project under your belt. You can decide whether to expand the meadow or not, and you will be making that decision based upon a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the resources required vs. what you have to devote. Continue reading