So we are committed and have begun our meadow project!
On Wednesday I used lawn paint to outline the edges of the new meadow. It is going to extend down the whole west side of our lawn from the front yard to the backyard (keeping a width of at least two passes with the lawn mower along the property line and the front sidewalk). The only use we have found for this part of the yard is for our raised vegetable beds, and it's time for them to go. So 1,000 ft² of otherwise unused lawn is going to become much more useful!
Yesterday we rented a sod cutter, and cut out all of the grass. We took 2 truckloads to the compost facility. Then we cut in a deep edge along the sides. I haven't decided if I want to put in permanent edging or not. I think in the long run, permanent edging will be a good idea to keep both grass and weeds from invading the meadow. We will be removing the raised vegetable beds as soon as those plants are finished this fall.
I've done a ton of research and taken several classes on meadow design, and still find it to be very daunting. At this moment, I have NO PLAN of what to plant. I will figure that in the next few months. My strategy is to get a native seed mix and add additional plugs of individual plants. I don't think I have enough square footage to justify a custom seed mix. So are we doing everything right? No. We are not. Ideally, for a spring seeded planting you would begin prepping the area the previous summer for proper weed elimination. There are many ways to do the prep work, and I had assumed that when I put in a meadow I would scalp the grass and cover with a black plastic sheet to solarize it during the summer months. Now it's not warm enough to solarize, so we skipped ahead with the sod cutter. The primary concern right now is what is in the seed bank? That area has been lawn for 25 years, and before that was a horse farm. The current weeds I know of in there are white clover and nutsedge, although I haven't seen the nutsedge this year for some reason. The white clover should have been cut out with the sod, but the nutsedge may live below the depth of the sod cutter -- we will have to watch closely next summer and fall for the nutsedge to come up. In the meantime, winter and spring germinating weeds will be coming up. I'm interested to see what we get. I am hoping for a few weeds that I can just clip out. If there are a lot, we will have to spray with glyphosate. I may occasionally rake the top surface of the soil to help exhaust the seed bank, but no deeper than half an inch. Also you're not supposed to have a tree in your meadow - trees invite birds to sit around and then drop unwanted seeds into the meadow. But don't we want birds to come and eat the seeds in the meadow anyway? And my yellow flowering magnolia is not going anywhere. It will be a very long time before it's big enough to cast enough shade to have to change out the plants. Total project cost this far: $48.98