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The Great value of urban meadows

I am seriously impassioned by meadows; they are currently my most favorite landscape solution.  Meadows are gorgeous (think variety of textures and colors) and low-maintenance.  Drought tolerant and only mowed once a year, meadows are The Lawn Alternative of the present and future.  If open space is desired, some meadows can be cut short to mimic lawns, but left to flower and seed, meadows are at their most beautiful and useful.  Just some of the incredible ecosystem services  that meadows provide:

– Meadows build topsoil- critical since we lost an average of 3 meters (really!) due to bad farming  practices and deforestation in the eastern US.

– Meadows infiltrate water!  By breaking up clay with deep, tenacious roots, what were compacted city soils can serve to return water to our ancient aquifers

– Meadows sequester carbon- it’s all about the root biomass

– Meadows provide food and shelter for wildlife.  In the city this translates to supporting native bird populations and pollinators like honeybees.

– Meadows enhance biodiversity- encouraging the dynamic interaction of plants and macro and micro-organisms strengthens local ecology.

– They provide seasonal beauty outside, cut flowers and dried grasses for arrangements

We are going to see a lot more meadows in the city.  Meadows in the urban landscape are proving as vital as naturally occurring prairies.  In 2008, Hunter and Hunter published a study, “Designing for conservation of insects in the built environment” that concluded urban meadows were critical for insect diversity.  Catherine Zimmerman does wonderful work with the meadow project, teaching that anyone can install a meadow in any region.  A recent workshop here in Atlanta by the Lady Bird Johnson Center in TX at  Trees Atlanta shed light on meadow installation and care, using the Atlanta Beltline meadow trials as a local example.  We are implementing as many as possible!  One of our most recent meadow projects was the Drew Charter School Eco-Learning Courtyard.  Meadows are still considered ‘trial’ here as not many have done them.  They are usually a mix of mostly native grasses and some flowering, native perennials. They are gorgeous!!!   See?!  …….

a CA meadow garden

a CA meadow garden

california meadow garden

california meadow garden

meadow in winter has a special beauty

meadow in winter has a special beauty

butterfly-milkweed meadow joe pye MeadowGarden

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  1. […] – A seasonal meadow with a multitude of ecosystem functions described in depth here […]

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