Learn about the tough, low-maintenance grass relatives that can form the foundation for a fragrant meadow.
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The average American lawn could be changed for the better -- and John Greenlee feels strongly that he's the man to do it. A strong proponent of using the sedges, or Carex varieties, that are native to the area, he believes that these tough, low-maintenance grass relatives are the foundation for your own fragrant romantic meadow. He constantly preaches the "gospel of the meadow" and its many virtues over the traditional chemically dependent lawn.
Plant varieties such as Carex pansa, Carex tumulicola "Berkley Sedge" and Brachypodium 'Denver Botanic Garden' are excellent to begin with. Adding varieties such as Pennisetum messiacum 'Red Bunny Tails' and Pennisetum spathiolatum "Slender Veldt Grass" will give height, color and texture to the meadow and make it more welcoming to native wildlife such as birds and beneficial insects. Greenlee calls grasses "the hair of the earth" and feels that developing a meadow is a much more earth-friendly way to garden because it uses no chemicals to maintain its health.
In addition to grasses, plants such as Nemesia 'Bluebird' and "Compact Innocence', Osteospermum 'Symphony Lemon', Diascia 'Little Charmer' and Verbena 'Temari Patio Blue' add color and fragrance to the tough-as-nails grass foundation and will create a wonderful romantic meadow right in your own backyard.
Here are the basic steps to follow if you want to create your own meadow: First, evaluate your plot to understand its composition and soil conditions. Select plants that are suited to your plot's conditions. Use grasses as the framework of your meadow. Set out grasses first, then fill in with flowers and other plants. Plant grass plugs on triangular centers for a more natural look. Fertilize your new meadow. Always water thoroughly after fertilizing. Spread a layer of mulch over your entire meadow.
A few points to remember:
Before planting a meadow, you must kill the existing turf. An all-purpose herbicide such as Round-Up will do the job.
Amend the soil with good compost or organic material and work it into the soil.
Apply a granular fertilizer after planting to help get the plants off to a good start.
Watering on a regular basis the first few months after planting is important to establish good root growth.
To add color to the meadow, place smaller flowering plants in drifts in groups of three or five, avoiding straight lines and circles since they won't look natural.
Watch closely for the return of non-native weeds and lawn grasses until the meadow is established.