Our meadow design

Part of the back meadow areaEnlarge ©Janet Allen
Our meadow area

We call this our meadow, but we know that it's actually just meadow-ish. Basically, it's our sunny area where we plant native grasses and meadow-type native flowers.

We try to plant mostly lower-growing plants in the front and higher-growing plants in the back. We tried not to make this height progression too rigid, though (as if we could), because it would look too formal and perhaps might not be as appealing to wildlife.

MeadowEnlarge ©Janet Allen
Part of the meadow in our backyard

I had originally planted only flowers, but added native grasses after reading Sara Stein (see sidebar at right).

Some of the flowers are monarda (Monarda fistulosa), liatris (Liatris), brown-eyed susan (Rudbeckia), gray coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Missouri primrose (Oenothera missouriensis), prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), among others.

Monarchs in the meadow  ©Janet Allen
Some monarchs visiting our meadow

Some of the grasses are switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Sky' and 'Shenandoah'), little bluestem (Schizachryrium scoparium), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and others.

We have a mixture of native plants all growing together. The mixture changes as various plants reseed and others decline, but the variety is appealing to creatures and to us.

Our back yard from the roof  ©Janet Allen
Permanent paths in the back yard (and NO lawn)

An unforseen advantage is its location in front of our edible garden: it attracts a wealth of pollinators that helps keep our fruits and vegetables producing delicious produce.

(It's also an ideal "grocery store" for spiders looking for some tasty insects attracted by the flowers.)

Another native grass area in our back yard

Entering the back yard ©Janet AllenEntering the back yard

Our back yard is entirely enclosed by a wooden fence. There's no lawn at all. The path to the left goes toward the back on a gentle slope, and the path to the right goes to the door to the garage and to the sliding door to enter the house.

The grasses are all native grasses. They die back each year, so for much of the early summer, they're not as tall as they are in this photo.

native grasses(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
A variety of native grasses

At first, we planned on using this just as a sitting area, but I became concerned about the sitting area backing up to a dropoff to the path below, so we decided to plant grasses there.

We built this area up to make it level with the main part of the sitting area between the house and the pond.

To build it up, we used buckets of sod we collected from the curb. (Someone put a lot of topsoil out to the curb when they were installing a fence. How can people put TOPSOIL out to the curb along with trash!)

Bee nest  ©Janet Allen
A bumble bee nest

That wasn't enough to build up this area, so we also filled it in with some extra cinder blocks we had lying around. Now I'm wondering first, whether it's a good idea to put cinder blocks in soil (probably not), and second, how long these grasses will continue to thrive when at least some of their roots must be exposed to air pockets in the cinder blocks. So far, this has worked out, but probably it wasn't the best thought-out idea.

And it turned out that bumble bees approve of this area! We were delighted to watch this bumble bee colony throughout the summer when they nested in this native grass area.