From:Mendham, NJ Region: Northeast Topic: Turf Title: Process of converting from lawn to wildflower meadow in New Jersey Answered by: Nan Hampton and Dean Garrett
I live in northern New Jersey and have an acre of property which is currently a grassy lawn. I would like to make a meadow where the lawn is. What is the process to convert from a lawn to a meadow? Thank you.
The basic steps to converting a lawn to a meadow are:
1. Remove the lawn grass, which can involve letting it die through neglect, solarizing it, or mechanically/manually removing it en masse. 2. Assemble the native plant species by seed or plug, or allow native species to come in on their own. 3. Remove unwanted plants as they appear.
There seems to be consensus only on Step 3, which, unless there is a mass weed invasion, involves only hand or mechanical removal. There are several procedures for accomplishing steps 1 and 2, with particular disagreement over how much to disturb the soil.
Here are some internet resources that should help get you started:
o Noah's Garden and Planting Noah's Garden, by Sara Stein, a New York gardener who created both an upland and a lowland meadow on her property. Chapter 16 of the second book contains specific instructions on “How To Kill a Lawn.”
For help with finding plants and seeds, contact the Native Plant Society of New Jersey and a nearby chapter of the Wild Ones, a largely northeastern organization dedicated to conserving and restoring the native landscape. It doesn't look like they have a New Jersey chapter at present, but there are active groups in Pennsylvania and New York. Some of their chapters get together to do group plantings and restorations, which could be useful for as large an area as yours.
As for what core species to use in your meadow, the grass most frequently mentioned for the Northeast is Broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus). Sara Stein planted only Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) to start one of her New York meadows, but several other native grasses and wildflowers came in later on their own. In Requiem for a Lawnmower, Sally and Andy Wasowski recommend that Northeasterners start with Broomsedge and various regional species of fleabane (Erigeron), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), milkweed (Asclepias), beebalm (Monarda), coneflower (Echinacea), and Joe pye weed (Eupatorium).
Wild Bird Oasis in Medford, New Jersey, has an exciting variety of regionally native plants for sale and also offers an “environmental restoration” service. If you click on the “Native Plants” link on the left of their site, a list of different plant categories should appear. Click on “Herbaceous Plants for Medium to Dry Sites” to see what grasses, sedges, and wildflowers they carry.
Drought tolerant grass with little need for mowing for Hill Country of Texas November 17, 2011 - What grass would you recommend for the hill country of Texas that is drought tolerant and does not need frequent mowing? view the full question and answer
Invasive non-native Bermuda grass in lawns July 30, 2007 - Hello Mr. Smarty Pants. My yard here in southwest Austin is the only lawn with Bermuda Tif 419 grass. I am surrounded by neighbors with St. Augustine. I upgraded to this hybrid Bermuda for a number of... view the full question and answer
Groundcover for Laredo Texas July 04, 2011 - I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial sha... view the full question and answer
Mixture of native grasses as opposed to buffalo grass monoculture November 26, 2003 - My husband and I just built our home on Lake Travis. Our lot is very rocky and is on the side of a hill. We would like to plant something on the incline at the front of our home that doesn't need a l... view the full question and answer
Clover for possible lawn area in The Woodlands, TX October 01, 2008 - I have two areas in my large lawn that grass refuses to grow. I am thinking of seeding with clover which old lawns used to always have. Which clover will grow in this area? Where do I find seeds an... view the full question and answer