Meadow Planting

As part of the improvements funded by a grant from  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the Lower Merion Conservancy, several areas of lawn along the trail have been converted into meadow landscapes.  The largest area is the hill and swale in between the paved trail and the service driveway underneath the power lines, as pictured above before the planting took place.  Because of the power lines, it is not possible to plant trees in this area.  

As the panorama shows, this area was entirely lawn that was mowed weekly during the growing season. The lawn provided little benefit for wildlife and only minimal benefit in terms of stormwater retention.  

This is what that area looked like in the next spring, after the mowing was stopped. The flowers that were planted haven't yet become established but the variety of grasses is beautiful, especially with the wind waving them around. 

In the winter time the mounds of grass provide shelter for birds, mice and other creatures. THe grasses produced seeds that are food for these and other animals. 

The meadow areas will be mowed periodically. Our plan is to mow only part of the meadow each year, thus always leaving habitat available in at least part of the meadow area. 

Preparation for meadow plantings usually includes killing all the existing vegetation, generally using an herbicide such as glyphosate. This was not being done here. Instead, specific parts of the meadow were densely planted with plugs being inserted directly into the existing turf. The plan above shows these areas in salmon and bright yellow. The rest of the area, which is labeled "no mow," consists of the existing turfgrasses which will no longer be regularly mowed. 

One advantage of this method is that no herbicides are introduced into the environment. In addition, by not killing all the vegetation soil disturbance is reduced and hopefully there will be reduced colonization of weeds from seeds. Instead of creating a large space of bare soil that can be easily washed away, turf is left in place. We feel that these advantages outweigh the disadvantages. These include accepting that the no-mow areas will largely be non-native cool season grasses. While we are overseeding with native plant seeds, and we have hopes that some of the native plants will spread from the beds into the no-mow area, if this occurs it will be a gradual process taking place over many years. The grasses and other plants chosen for the beds are vigorously growing species that should be well-adapted for the job. You can zoom in on the plan above to see the species lists, or look at the table reproduced below.