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Outdoor/Garden
Plant a Meadow Garden
Take the natural meadow garden approach when planning how to grow your next bunch of backyard blooms.
If your idea of a cottage garden conjures up images of neatly planted rows of shrubs framed by tidy beds of symmetrical flowers, you may be missing out on the joys of a more organic approach to gardening called “meadow gardening.” The philosophy of meadow gardening is simple: Create a bit of what nature does... Keep Scrolling
Written by JICKIE TORRES
Photos excerpted from by Mini Meadows: : Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard by Mike Lizotte, published by Storey Publishing, storey.com; © 2019.


If your idea of a cottage garden conjures up images of neatly planted rows of shrubs framed by tidy beds of symmetrical flowers, you may be missing out on the joys of a more organic approach to gardening called “meadow gardening.” The philosophy of meadow gardening is simple: Create a bit of what nature does on its own. By growing a wild mix of beautiful native plants they’re free to mix and mingle as they please.

Wildflowers surrounding a rustic wood post and metal mailbox and beyond it a front railing to a home.
SEED RIGHT. “People ask if they need to rake their seeds into the soil or cover them with soil. In most cases, the answer is No,” Mike says. “Most wildflower or meadow mix seeds are small enough that if you rake them or cover them, some of them may end up planted too deep in the soil. So instead, lightly press seeds into the soil by simply laying a piece of cardboard over the planting area and walking over it.”

“Think of a meadow garden as loose and informal one that doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain. It shouldn’t be a burden. Allow it to develop and mature on its own. Year after year you learn from and enjoy the process as you go,” says Mike Lizotte, seed purveyor and founder of American Meadows seed catalog. In his new book, Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard, Mike sets out to demystify the meadow-garden approach. He wants to encourage new and veteran gardeners alike to embrace the joy and creativity of this garden style.

Related Reading: 5 Tips for a Garden Glow Up

Exterior shot of a white home with wood siding and navy blue shudders, a brick path surrounded by wildflowers that leads to the front door.
PRACTICAL PLANNING. Meadow gardens still need prep work to make them shine. The meadow strips that flank this walkway are full and even, thanks to evenly distributed seed and good soil prep. “The more time you spend clearing the area of unwanted grasses and weeds, the better your meadow will be,” says Mike.

BENEFITS

In addition to their low-maintenance requirements, meadow gardens also tend to attract birds and pollinators and to produce endless color and an ever-changing look. By replacing a portion of your lawn with a meadow garden, you’ll also reduce your water usage once the area is established.

Rustic wooden Adirondack chair surrounded by a field of wildflowers.
PRETTY PROFUSION. A deckchair set amid a cloud of flowers is a dreamy spot to spend the afternoon. To maintain the look, you still have to weed. “Try to weed after a rainstorm, if you can,” says Mike. “Pulling weeds when the soil is damp or wet is much easier. Also, if you do pull weeds, keep in mind it will create open pockets of soil. These are perfect for receiving more meadow seed, so be sure to have some extra on hand.”

A good meadow garden makes smart use of native plants. Flowers and plants that are indigenous to your area and thrive well naturally. They add to the low-maintenance, drought-tolerant benefits of your garden.

Meadow gardens can grow pretty much anywhere. And if you’re unsure how you’ll do with letting your flowers grow wild, try meadow gardening in a raised bed to keep the look a bit more contained.

Row of wildflowers next to a sidewalk with a woman smelling flowers out of focus in the background.
LET IT GROW. It will take around three months for your first meadow patch to grow into a garden of blooms. “Know the bloom times of the plants and plugs you’ve selected. Don’t choose too many that bloom at the same time, as this could leave other times of the year with limited color,” Mike says.

LET LOOSE

Meadow gardens are just fun. Watching your mini meadow grow, evolve and surprise you is exciting, and the loose approach lets you get creative. “There’s nothing more satisfying than spending the summer exploring flower meadows with daughter, Sadie. Each year we sit down and plan our meadows, adding new flowers and Sadie’s favorite colors or shapes. She also started a journal to identify all the different critters that visit each year,” Mike writes. “Whether you are sowing seeds or learning about pollinators, you’ll find that meadow gardening is a great way to get kids involved at an early age.”

Mini Meadows: : Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard by Mike Lizotte, published by Storey Publishing, storey.com; © 2019.

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on A Cozy Creative Garden

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