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Meadows  

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Meadows and Pollinator Gardens 

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So what exactly is a Meadow? 

A meadow is a large free form area of mixed flowering perennials, grasses and forbs with season long appeal and low maintenance once established.  Areas good for meadow gardens are sunny dry areas of the lawn that are usually filled with crabgrass in the summer and are muddy dirt patches in the winter and spring. As well as steep slopes and other hard to mow areas. 

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Liatris Blazing Star Meadow 
Winter Meadow in Richmond Rhode Island 

Why would I want a Meadow? 

Where do I even start?

I'll make a list!

1. Extremely low maintenance once established, no fertilizing, no mowing, no leaf cleanup (these areas of the yard are usually free of leaves anyways) and at most a yearly mow down in spring. 

2. All year color and appeal! From the golden brown grasses swaying in the winter winds to the summer field of flowers as shown in this picture. 

3. Cost effective! The average homeowner with a lawn will pay an average of 150$ an acre to have it mowed a week! If they have 1 acre of lawn, they are paying upwards 4500$ a year to have their grass cut. Not to mention fertilizing, pesticides, herbicides, watering etc. 

The average lawn is a huge waste of money and resources.

4. The WILDLIFE, thousands of species of insects like moths and butterflies, hundreds of different birds, rabbits, deer, etc. Why wouldn't you want your property to harbor populations of these critters? Well, good ole habitat destruction in the building of suburbs, shopping centers, solar farms, roads etc. Our natural areas are dwindling by the day. See this article: The U.S. Loses a Football Field-Sized Chunk of Nature Every 30 Seconds (gizmodo.com)

5. Environmentally friendly. From the reduced carbon emissions from not mowing, the fertilizer runoff into our waterways, better water infiltration into our soils the list goes on and on. I suggest doing the research with thousands of peer reviewed papers and articles about the detrimental environmental impacts of vast areas of manicured lawnscapes. Why Our Lawns Are Bad for the Environment and How to Change Them for the Better - The Permaculture Research Institute (permaculturenews.org)

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Goldenrod meadow at Great Swamp Management Area in Rhode Island in September 
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Long Term, Cost effective, Lawn to Meadow Transition

Lawn to Meadow Transition?

How I transition lawns to meadows:

 First we bring in natives and plant them either in the corners, patches or areas throughout the lawn in the fall.  

In the spring we will cut the dead down over the course of the summer they will then regrow and spread. (we can mark new plants with flags, rocks etc to keep them from being mowed)

The following fall we will split those plants and continue to fill in/add to areas of lawn transition. 

The process of meadow transition follows an exponential curve. As more plants are brought, spread and split the areas of lawn decrease more and more every year. Eventually most the lawn will become a low maintenance meadow with a few paths. The landscape area will only need to be mowed once a year in early spring, with spot weeding to keep invasive weeds out. 

Projected timeline/outlook for meadow

Meadow Plants such as goldenrod spread about half a foot or 6inches a year in a roughly circular shaped area, these plants spread by rhizomes and will send 3-6 rhizomes per existing stalk each year. 

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Area of lawn

Area of Meadow 

Maintenance in such an area gets exponentially lower as it gets established. After planting weeding should be done about 3 times a year for the 1st and 2nd year of planting then maybe once every year after that. With yearly cut down.

Costs Per Visit would be about 200$ or 600$ a year Once Established 200$ a year per 1000sqft

 With no further mulch or planting needed. 

I also offer free training in plant identification and maintenance of your meadow.  Text me pictures of plants with flower or clear photo of stems and leaves if you get stumped. 

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2. Large Scale Meadow Planting 3850$ per 1000sqft 

Large scale plantings have similar strategy to the small scale with a few differences. 

This type of installation is for areas 1000-5000sq ft. Especially if it involves significant lawn removal. 

Costs: Sodcutter rental 300$/day, 24 hours labor/1000sqft, disposal potential, gas and other materials 150$, 3 yards mulch 300$, 100 Plants~1600$ 

Manual removal of lawn using a sod cutter. This would immediately open the area up for planting.

Once lawn is removed, meadow plants will be placed and planted to mimic the natural areas they are from. Then mulched to help reduce weeds during establishment. 

Disposed of sod material will be taken away (with cost) or dumped in a pile onsite. 

PLANTING IS BEST DONE IN FALL TO REDUCE WATERING (if you have lived here for the past couple years you might have noticed it doesn't rain much during the hot summer which is very detrimental to new plantings). Maintenace is similar to small scale plantings. With area being mowed or cut back once a year.

Cost of installation

There is a variety of ways to go about installing your meadow. From a small scale removal of a circle of grass to entire areas of the lawn. Different methods have different costs.

1. Small scale meadow/pollinator gardens . 2500$ per 1000sqft 

These are areas less than 1000 sq ft. such as around the house or a bed in the yard. For an area that is sunny.

Steps of installation: Site prep, Soil enhancement by tilling or turning over, planting and light mulching 

I work for about 60$/hr and I can have the foundation of a house finished in about 16 hrs -Depends on size of course, this would be based on a 2 story colonial with your average foundation planting. See.figure 2

Site prep-This would entail removal of weeds existing shrubs etc (if need be-especially if invasive) 

Labor ~1000$ , 75 plants~1200$, 3 yards of mulch~300$ 

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Figure 2, average colonial with average landscaping

Concerns and questions about meadows answered here! 

TICKS? 

Well yea. Bringing natural areas back to our landscapes does come with some downsides, but that's where mowed access paths around the meadow for maintenance and viewing purposes come in. These mowed paths will be easy to maintain, and I offer to do this task if you are interested. Also bringing these natural areas back welcomes possums who eat alot of ticks. More on that here: 

Opossum Facts – The Misunderstood And Helpful Opossum (gardeningknowhow.com)

IS IT ALL OR NOTHING?

No, the meadow installation will be tailored to your needs. Be it a hard slope to mow, property edges, around the house or a small section.  

WATERING?

Only the first 6 months after planting. After that the plants will thrive on their own!

Your question not on here? Ask me! 

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Mowed path through a daisy and bluestem meadow 
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