Meadowscape Guide

Pollinator Meadowscape Guide

 

The single most effective action you can take to conserve pollinators is to plant native wildflower habitat.

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

 

 

Why plant a meadow?

Beautiful and biodiverse, meadows are essential habitat for bees, birds, and butterflies.  Meadows inspire us to better understand the harmony and melody that weaves all life together. 

 

Why native wildflowers?

Native plants provide the foundation for healthy ecological communities.  A meadowscape of native wildflowers contributes to the integrity of our common ecosystem and builds natural resilience for changes to come.

 

Does size matter?

The quick answer is no.  Even small spaces can contain many wildflowers.  Little patches, when taken together, can form a large network of connected habitat!  These habipatches can take many forms.  Consider creating a:

  • Micro-meadow
  • Monarch waystation 
  • Lawn to meadow conversion 
  • Flowerstrips in farms 
  • Roadside pollinator enhancement 
  • Restoration and Rewilding of parks, fields, and natural areas

 

bee on camas

 

Meadow Making for Pollinators

 

To help you conceptualize how meadow creation can occur we offer the following five-step guide, adapted from the Xerces Society manual “Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed.” The full manual can be downloaded at http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/EstablishingPollinatorMeadows.pdf 

 

Making a wildflower meadow for pollinators can be accomplished by anyone at any scale.  The best approach is to take the time to do it right.  Meadowscaping is an antidote to this frenetic world we all live in.  Slow down, select the space, assemble the plants, put them in well-prepared soil when nature can best take care of them.  Don’t be hasty.

 

The process behind creating a wildflower-rich meadow consists of five basic steps: 

 

Site selection 

A sunny open site is ideal for a meadow, although some shadier spots can work too!  Assess your site for soil conditions and existing natural habitat features and plants.  Determine which plants to keep, which ones to let go of, and which ones need to be moved or managed.

Site preparation 

The importance of site preparation cannot be overemphasized. A full growing season learning from and preparing the site will result in greater success. 

We recommend either solarizing or sheet mulching through spring and summer to suppress existing unwanted vegetation.  Sod removal can also be considered if you are converting a lawn or pasture. 

Seedbed preparation consists of preparing a smooth, lightly packed surface.  Ploughing, rototilling, or digging can stimulate weed growth and damage soil structure so is not generally recommended.

Plant selection 

Floral diversity – choose a variety of flower shapes and colours, and ensure there are blooming plants throughout the season. 

Seeds – collect your own or purchase only ‘local ecotype’ seeds and plants.  See KNPS website for ethical collection guidelines and for seed availability. 

Plants – grow your own for outplanting or purchase starters from a local grower who uses only local ecotypic seeds.   

PLEASE – Do not dig up plants from the wild.  They rarely survive the transplant, and they are needed where they are!

Planting 

Early fall is the best time to plant your meadow. 

Many native seeds require a cold moist period for germination.  This happens naturally over the winter.  Fall is an excellent time to transplant seedlings as well. 

You can supplement with annuals the following spring, and in-fill with new species as your meadow progresses.

Ongoing management 

Water in the spring if there is inadequate rainfall.  Once established, your meadow should not need supplemental irrigation.   

Control weeds for the first year or two.  This can be done by hand or by mowing.  Many perennial natives are slow-growing and small and may take time to establish.  Be patient! 

Long-term management may involve mowing, burning, shrub and tree removal, mulching, and reseeding. 

MeadowGuide