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Grow A Meadow

Updated on September 24, 2014

Go Au Natural in Your Yard... with Flowers!

If you are looking for an easy and fun way to lessen your yard work, add some color, ease up on watering and all that good stuff, have you ever considered just hosting a big patch of nature instead of making something complicated?

That's what sort of happened at my house, and the end result is that when people ask us what is up with our backyard, we tell them we're growing a meadow. So far, there hasn't been a single person who hasn't found that answer interesting. I'm going to share the thought process behind the idea, and then give you some really easy tips for how you can have a chunk or two of managed nature in your own yard.

If you have an outdoor cat, you have to do this. They'll love you for it. Actually, you'll get more animal friends in your yard all around if you grow a meadow. If you are into supporting healthy insect populations, bees and beyond, this is a great way to go!

Grow Flowers For Flavor - a meadow of wildflowers for honey

Honeybee Specialty Mix (Mix HB1), 500 Certified Pure Live Seed, True Native Seed
Honeybee Specialty Mix (Mix HB1), 500 Certified Pure Live Seed, True Native Seed

If you have enough room in your yard for an apiary, you might want to make sure you have a nice dense offering of flowers for your bees to use.

 

Evolution of a Meadow - because meadows don't grow themselves overnight

Click thumbnail to view full-size
June 2014 - We're taking out the raised bed after redoing all the edges of the yard.  This is a more "green" choice for future yard use.We moved the logs that framed the bed to other beds that needed framing.  Dirt was moved to those new beds too.What you see is the remains but the cloche frame is still in place.  The PVC easily came apart and can be reused somewhere else.The remaining dirt was raked over the area which is being allowed to go wild until it was almost level with the lawn.A walking path was mowed around the edges of the yard so that there are a few feet trimmed for people to walk comfortably.
June 2014 - We're taking out the raised bed after redoing all the edges of the yard.  This is a more "green" choice for future yard use.
June 2014 - We're taking out the raised bed after redoing all the edges of the yard. This is a more "green" choice for future yard use.
We moved the logs that framed the bed to other beds that needed framing.  Dirt was moved to those new beds too.
We moved the logs that framed the bed to other beds that needed framing. Dirt was moved to those new beds too.
What you see is the remains but the cloche frame is still in place.  The PVC easily came apart and can be reused somewhere else.
What you see is the remains but the cloche frame is still in place. The PVC easily came apart and can be reused somewhere else.
The remaining dirt was raked over the area which is being allowed to go wild until it was almost level with the lawn.
The remaining dirt was raked over the area which is being allowed to go wild until it was almost level with the lawn.
A walking path was mowed around the edges of the yard so that there are a few feet trimmed for people to walk comfortably.
A walking path was mowed around the edges of the yard so that there are a few feet trimmed for people to walk comfortably.

Styling Your Meadow

Think about what you want to have. Do you want to encourage hummingbirds and butterflies? How about getting really ambitious and having bees? Or maybe you just want a very pretty no-mow lawn. Not having to water, weed or trim a lawn is very tempting. You might even use the right flowers to help improve poor soil conditions.

We couldn't agree more with all of the above.

Inspiration From The Neighborhood - this is what we're talking about!

wildflowers, photo by Relache
wildflowers, photo by Relache

I was out walking in my own neighborhood and saw a perfect example of the sort of wild patch that my housemate and I are trying to cultivate. Isn't this great! It was a big chunk of wild garden, part of someone's sidewalk strip property, on a busy corner too.

As you can see the patch has a really nice even density to it, there aren't really any spots that seem open or empty. The colors are all a great mix, and based on the sun it gets, the plants develop a staggered height and work it out competition-wise for water. In the end, with minimal care, a big area like this just sort of stays like this across a season or two.

At present, I've got a big patch of dirt that we've scattered some seeds onto and which we've not really watered because we're not really getting rain, and we decided not to bear the extra expense versus it just taking longer to get established. It's summer. We don't mind watching the grass grow really slowly.

Give A Meadow A Helping Hand! - seeding to add diversity or density

Jonathan Green 12384 Wildflower Meadow Mix Seed
Jonathan Green 12384 Wildflower Meadow Mix Seed

Give your new meadow a boost by sowing a mix of wildflower seeds over the area.

 

See What Sorts Of Meadows You Can Grow - share in the experience of other meadow gardeners

Whether you are brand-new to growing wildly in your yard, or maybe you're an old pro, you are welcome to share your comments, questions, insights and experience here! What region do you live in and what are you growing? Or maybe you're just watching it grow...

Anybody else growing nature in their backyard? - what do you grow/manage/tend/ignore in your yard?

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    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      We have real meadows, so I love your idea of re-creating the country in the city! Your lenses made good hubs!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @LauraHofman: I had a deck garden in college, and we put down a nice scrap of fake grass carpet and just went crazy with potted plants. It was an econo-meadow.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 3 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I'm in the Chicago area (Zone 5) and have a butterfly garden in the ground and in containers on the patio. Right now milkweed, joe pye weed, lantana, pentas, shasta daisies, and coneflowers are in bloom. Hoping for more butterfly traffic...they are starting to come! Wish I had more room for a meadow. Well done lens!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @Elyn MacInnis: If you need a tiny, indoor one, there's one you can get further back up this lens....

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @ecogranny: Right now we're laughing about how we have great weeds in the veggie beds and dirt in the meadow, but at this time of year, you only get plants where you water. But we've seen all sorts of plants appear all over the yard over the years. The more bird activity you have, the more you might get new types of plants each year.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @DebMartin: Deb, if you just think of it like an equation, you can get it to work. Space + sunlight + water = meadow. Get enough of those three in one spot and there you go!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 3 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Love this idea... I wish I had a meadow to grow...

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      If I had a yard, I would be growing a meadow. When Mom and Dad retired, they bought a property with a small woods on it, but also a lot of open ground. Dad got his vegetable gardens, two big ones and a small kitchen garden for mom, and mom got several flower gardens, including a few that look very like your neighbors', plus a large meadow. It has been great fun, over the years, to see what comes up in the meadow from one year to the next. Good luck with yours, and may you enjoy it as much over time.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      While I don't have room for a meadow (I live in the woods), the road does dead-end at my driveway and the turnaround is open with lots of space. This would be the perfect project for lining the sides of that turnaround. Great idea!

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Well I guess I have my own meadow, there is hardly any grass left! Nice job!

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @RinchenChodron: I have a friend in Portland who has an entire wild meadow on a patio through very intensive use of potted plants. But the visual effect is amazing, and all he really has to do is water them.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      I live in a condo so I use potted plants.

    • schwarz profile image
      Author

      Rae Schwarz 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      @paulahite: Thanks, Paula! I just did...

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      Such a lovely idea! I shared it on our G+ page today. Come and check it out!

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/10593843672309975630...