NOTICE: has been archived.

The archive will be available at for approximately one year (through September 2020). If you use or are responsible for content here that is not yet available elsewhere, please contact the PWD Digital Team.

Wildflower Meadow

What is a Wildflower Meadow?

  • A wildflower meadow is a mix of hardy flowering native plants and grasses that recreate a natural habitat space in your yard.
  • A wildflower meadow provides habitat for birds, numerous insects (including pollinating bees) and other wildlife.
  • Why Build a Wildflower Meadow?

  • Wildflower meadows are a great way to reduce the maintenance needs
    of a large yard, restore an unkempt field, or simply develop natural,
    low-maintenance landscaping.
  • A wildflower meadow will help to manage stormwater, filter
    stormwater, promote groundwater infiltration and even prevent flooding.
  • Developing a meadow can reduce lawn space, minimizing the amount of fertilizers and chemicals used in lawn care.
  • Wildflower meadows are particularly suitable for steep slopes, where
    they can prevent erosion and reduce the need for mowing or landscaping

  • Photo: Robin Sasek, CDM

    How to Create a Wildflower Meadow

    Step 1. Site Selection

  • Choose a suitable location, preferably an open, sunny site that gets six hours of sun every day. An already cultivated site such as field, garden plot or lawn is ideal. Avoid an abundance of aggressive weeds if possible.
  • A wildflower meadow can be a small space (1,000 square feet) or cover an entire yard, hillside or field.

    Step 2. Plant Selection

  • Select plants that will work well on the particular site, according to the amount of sun, shade and moisture.
  • It is crucial to have a diversity of native, flowering species, including grasses and flowering plants. You can create your own mixture of wildflower seeds or buy a quality seed mix from a reputable supplier.
  • Choose perennial plants species, rather than annuals. Perennials will take a longer time to become established and develop a colorful flower display, but they will return yearly and out-compete many weeds.

    Step 3. Site Preparation

  • Remove all weeds and minimize the regrowth of weeds by either tilling the soil or smothering the remaining vegetation with black plastic, leaves, newspapers or cardboard for a season.
  • For a lawn, remove the sod using a sod-cutter or spade.

    Step 4. Sowing or Planting

  • Sowing or planting can take place in spring or early summer.
  • Keep the new meadow watered as often as you would a newly seeded lawn for the first month or two.
  • Many seeds will either not germinate until the following spring, or germinate and not grow until then.
  • If you sow seeds in the fall, is best to plant annual rye winter cover crop at the same time.
  • Avoid sowing in mid or late summer when there may be droughts or seeds drying out before germinating.
  • When sowing, aim to spread 80 seeds per square foot.
  • Seeds should be sown at a 1:3 ratio of grass to flowering species. This equates to nine pounds of flowering species seed and three pounds of grass species seeds per acre.
  • For a small (less than 1,000-square foot) site, consider using germinated small plants bought in trays as “plugs.”

    Step 5. Management

  • For the first two years, intensive weed control is necessary. Do not pull weeds, as this may disturb wildflower seedlings. Do not use herbicides, as this will also kill adjacent wildflower plants.
  • Keep weeds cut back to at least four to six inches, and never let weeds grow over one foot in height. A weed whacker / string trimmer works well for this.
  • In the third and fourth years, mow the meadow close to the ground in the late fall or early spring, and remove debris after mowing. This will expose the soil to rapid warmth from the sun in the spring, encouraging wildflowers over cool-season weeds.
  • In later years, the wildflowers should achieve a natural advantage, and you can selectively pull out any weeds or woody plant seedlings.
  • Disclaimer

    This website content is provided to you on an “AS IS” and “WITH ALL FAULTS” basis. You acknowledge that you assume the entire risk of loss in using this information, including without limitation any loss incurred by any End User. You further acknowledge that this content is complex and may contain some nonconformities, defects and/or errors. PWD does not warrant that this website will meet your needs or expectations, or that all nonconformities can or will be corrected. PWD assumes no risk, liability or responsibility for the accuracy of this guide. See full disclaimer