Suppose that you're ready to scrap your lawn and do something more sensible. Bravo! That's a smart move, especially considering the wide of variety of low-maintenance alternatives that use much fewer resources after they're established.
Everywhere you look, people are taking out their lawns and replacing them with meadows. The transformation has been described as a "revolution," and it's surely one of the bright spots in modern horticulture. Instead of fertilizing and watering to make grass grow and then ruthlessly decapitating it every week with snarling fossil-powered lawn mowers, the meadow owner enjoys a more tousled, natural-looking turf made up of native or climate-compatible nonnative grasses, grass-like sedges, or herbaceous plants such as yarrow. Check out the fine-looking meadow in Figure 19-2.
Properly chosen plants that are put in favorable locations have little if any trouble with pests and diseases.
✓ Meadows can be more diverse than lawns. Meadows provide a tough, playable, beautiful surface as well as habitat for beneficial and native insects such as butterflies.
You can (and really should) mix several kinds of plants in your meadow. Diversity makes any meadow a richer habitat that's more adaptable to varying conditions and much more interesting to look at.
How to make a meadow
Sprinklers are the best way to water a meadow wherever there are long periods of drought during the growing season. Even though watering will be less than with a lawn, it won't be zero.
5. Put in the plants.
Depending on the species you choose, the plants can be planted from seed or small pots. In some regions, certain meadow mixes are available as sod.
Establishment of some meadow species can involve more work than a lawn because the plants are slower to mature, meaning that you'll have to pull weeds for a while longer than usual. But that's a small price to pay for years of easy care and low impact.
Living with a meadow is pretty easy, given that the plants in a meadow don't care whether you pay much attention to them. Mowing can be challenging if the plants are very overgrown; a weed whacker or hand shears can work better than a mower in some cases.
As for watering meadows, try letting it go until you see signs of stress (slowing of growth, change in color, droopiness). I'll bet the intervals between waterings will be longer than you think.
Fertilize once or twice a year, but only if growth is slow. That's really about it. A meadow is supposed to be easy to maintain — and it is.
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