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Mr. Smarty Plants - Optimum mowing times for wildflower garden

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Tuesday - November 09, 2004

From: Brenham, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Laws
Title: Optimum mowing times for wildflower garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Washington County and have 4 acres that contain both an abundance of spring wildflowers and native grasses (silver and little bluestem, Texas grama). The homeowners restrictions require that I keep it mowed after the flowers bloom and set seed in late June. If I can get them to agree to a 4 times/year mowing what other 3 months would be the best to assure both the flowers (always popular) and the native grasses (not popular here) can survive?

ANSWER:

After your late June mowing when at least 1/2 of your late blooming species have dropped their seeds, you should not mow again until the seeds of the warm season native grasses have dropped. This should be late summer or early fall. You should set your mower blade to leave at least 6 inches of grass stalks above the ground. After this mowing, significant growth is not likely to occur until early spring, but you could schedule two more "high" mowings (if they are absolutely necessary to satisfy the homeowners restrictions) during the winter months before the wildflowers and native grasses have grown enough to be harmed. On the Wildflower Center web page in the Native Plant Library you can find a 3-page article, "Meadow Gardening" (that you can download as a PDF file) that addresses the creation and maintenance of wildflower meadows.
 

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