Meadow Establishment and Maintenance is a Dance with Mother Nature

Meadow establishment and maintenance is nothing like turf management. Nothing about it is like managing a mono crop. It is more like raising a child. You sort of plant the seeds of how to behave as best you can, but ultimately, the child or meadow, is an individual and will grow up based on an unimaginable number of internal and external factors beyond the parent’s control. A meadow is more like a controlled release of nature. A release of the new wildflower and perhaps native grasses planted, a release of all the weed seeds that live through whatever was used to try to kill them, including however many times roundup was applied, and a release of the species that birds will drop as they feed on the seeds created by whatever sprouts.

Here’s the thing, the meadow is not the thing we think it is – it’s not the plants. A meadow is the process of wilding a patch of ground, that we shape to provide particular ecosystem services, say wildlife habitat, for a few years time frame. That meadow will not end up what you plant. And, it will vary from year to year. Sometimes dramatically. Like one project where there were so many goldfinches feeding on coneflowers after feeding on heath asters, that they concentrated the pooped aster seed so that the next year it became a super concentrated aster stand with the other stuff, including the coneflowers, we planted in it.

There is so much to say about establishment, whether fall or spring, and if and how to kill weeds. Then there is if and how to use nurse crops.

More to come during a less busy time.

Happy Dancing.

Rapidan River Bottomland Meadow

Floodplain Meadow Mid-Summer Bloom

Riding path along river floodplain meadow

Mowed Riding and Walking Path through New Meadow