Meadows consist of a mixture of perennial grass species but also contain dozens of diverse broadleaf species that produce colorful flowers (wild flowers). They are both beautiful to look at and rich in wildlife, making them especially enjoyable to have on your property. Many species of birds frequent meadow habitat such as Meadow larks, Bobolinks, Blue birds, Song sparrows and Northern harriers. Many small mammals, reptiles and amphibians also use meadow habitat. The most numerous meadow species, both in diversity and abundance, are insects that make up a large part of the food chain converting all the plant material into protein, recycling nutrients or preying on each other. Grassland habitat is never boring for the keen observer and interested naturalist. Grassland provides something of interest in every season of the year. The songs of breeding birds in spring merge with the beautiful floral bouquet of summer then giving way to the waving seed heads and reddish hues of fall grasses closing with ornamented frost covered seed pods and wind shaped waves of bronzed grass.
A new meadow or prairie is established by sowing a mix of grass and broadleaf species into prepared soil. The process takes 2 or more years to establish and several years to achieve a self sustaining grassland plant community. Meadow can be established in areas as small as a few hundred square feet up to many acres in size. Any area that does not have permanent trees or shrubs growing on it can be converted to meadow. Septic fields and excess lawn can also be turned into meadow..
Nursery grown plugs can also be used to establish small plantings or enhance the diversity of established meadows.
Using plugs to establish meadow plants will speed up the establishment period, Plants often flower the first summer.
The land must first be prepared for planting. The soil needs to be free from weeds that will compete with the meadow seedlings. Weed control is the most important preparation for establishing meadow and should not be rushed. Establishing meadow takes patience and determination to achieve good results but is well worth the effort. WON will work with you throughout the establishment period to create beautiful diverse meadow habitat.
A meadow is not a large flower bed. Some species will increase in abundance, some will decrease, some will disappear altogether. You are creating a living functioning ecosystem that provides shelter and refuge for all the other organisms that will take up residence. Enjoy it for what it is and allow it to evolve and change over the years.
Meadow plants are some of the most beautiful plants in nature, but they are also some of the toughest and will persist and spread over time.