Au Natural: Managing Your Meadowscape

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More and more these days, our focus in this semi-arid climate is turning to water-wise landscapes. Homeowners are embracing this concept by re-envisioning their yards as meadows. “Meadows are less maintained and look more natural,” says Lifescape Garden Manager Ali Pougiales, “with lots of tall grasses and wildflowers—what you might see when you’re driving out of the city to the foothills. Some people transform their whole front yard into a meadow simply because they can make a wild habitat for bees, birds, and other pollinators, and it requires less water to irrigate because a lot of plants that grow in these spaces are more adapted to our local climate than plants in manicured gardens.” 

 So what’s involved in caring for all that wild, natural beauty? Here’s how Lifescape approaches the TLC aspect of growing a meadow from scratch: 

1. Soil and seeding

Amending your soil with organic material is critical to creating a nutrient-rich growing environment. We choose a seed mixture based on the level of moisture on the site; some seeds love water, while others thrive in a drier setting. 

 

2. Weed work

This is a priority whether you’re starting a meadow from scratch or moving to a home that’s already situated in meadowlike surroundings. In warmer weather, Lifescape technicians will spray (frequency depends on your irrigation level) to eliminate broadleaf weeds that might impede grass growth.

 

3. Mowing

The idea is to allow a natural and prairie-esque look, so we limit mowing to once or twice a year depending on whether the meadow is warm-season or cool-season grass. “We always mow after grasses have gone to seed because we really want to keep the seeds on-site to increase diversity,” Pougiales says. “It’s important to let the meadow do as much of its own work as possible. The more you can let your meadow grow, the better off it’ll be. It gets much less labor-intensive as the years go on. 

 

4. Patience

Yes, meadowscapes require less cultivation and heavy lifting than manicured gardens, but that doesn’t mean they flourish immediately. A full-grown meadow can take a few years to come into its own. And, flowers shouldn’t be introduced until the grasses are mature, often a few years in, because spot-spraying for weeds in the early stages of meadow growth will affect flowers, too. In other words: Give it time.

 

Tip: Enticed by the wildness of a meadow… but not sold on the wildness as your yard? Consider this compromise: If you’ve got even a quarter acre, you can mow a border path around the meadow to make your personal prairie look more contained. “You can be the neighbor that cares a lot about your yard and have a meadow that looks intentional,” Pougiales says. 

Connect with our experts today at https://lifescapecolorado.com/ about managing your meadow landscape. 

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