I am looking forward to establishing a pollinator meadow about 30x60 using a no-till method. I have been searching the web for some answers, particularly regarding the efficacy of using cardboard to smother lawn before sowing seeds. I want to cause as little soil disruption as possible but I also want to make sure all unwanted plants and seeds die back. If anyone has any input I’d be more than elated to hear it. I also read that I would ,not need to add any compost because wild flowers do not need or like a lot of nutrients. If that is the case would I simply remove the cardboard and Begin seeding? One last question, how much prep time is needed to establish a great meadow foundation. Some sources said at least 3 months, a season, a year. Ahhh I don’t know what to think. Much appreciation to all!
Hi Taylor, welcome to Permies!
The answer (as always) is "it depends" : on what you're starting with and what you want to end up with. Here is a good resource from RHS. Decide whether you want a cornfield type meadow full of annuals, or a grazing type meadow with perennials that come back year after year. Logically if you want "no dig" a perennial meadow is easier, but it depends a bit on what you're starting from.
I've been wanting to do this too! I think one of the major factors to consider when deciding to do it is where you are. A few years ago, my dad converted a stretch of lawn similar to the size you want to do into a meadow, just around where my sister situated her honeybees. My parents are in a very rural place where wildflowers grow like mad all around them, so it didn't take too long. He cut the grass a few times in the spring, and then just let it grow and then scythed it to the ground before the next spring. And he did this for several years--there are so many different types growing in the area now, it's a bonanza for the bees. If you're in a more developed area, it may take a little longer for a variety of flowers to get naturally seeded.
Real meadows are generally a mix of annual. biennial and perennials. I know that here in Texas, unless they are hand seeded, a lot of the necessary plants won't grow on their own unless there has been a sufficiently large grass fire to trigger germination. Since we're not normally allowed to go around lighting fires, we end up buying seeds and seeding them.
Look and see if your state has an Open Prairie Management program. Even if you don't end up converting to prairie, they can still advise you on what will grow best in your area. In some cases, its even possible to a break on the property taxes. They can even advise you on the best prep methods for your area and how long it will take. If you're outside North America, there should still be some sort of an agency with that information.
That’s awesome your Dad did that! Unfortunately, I am helping to establish this meadow for someone other then myself ha and they want things to move along a bit more swiftly. Also, thank you for sharing the link! Good luck with your own meadow..I’d love to see how it turns out
I haven't tried the smothering technique, but I started adding some bulbed/cormed perennial native flowers to my yard last summer and they are beginning to come up now. I have had mixed luck with seeds, probably because I didn't eliminate competitors. I don't know about your area but here in Oregon we have quite a few of them adapted to coexisting with grass. Tolmies cats ear, camas and native irises come to mind, but there are quite a few others I don't know the names of. There's a native oak meadow about an hour from my house up on Forest Service land that most people don't know about and it is quite lovely in the spring and early summer with various flower species, many of them perennials.
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