Yellow flowers and purple clover in meadow garden

Landscape Design Services

Meadow Gardens

Where is the most obvious place for a meadow garden? The area currently planted with lawn (or, that hardpan area at a construction site. See Construction Remediation above). Perfect green lawns require staggering amounts of fertilizers, weed killers, and insecticides — chemicals fast poisoning our environments and typically abused by untrained amateurs otherwise known as homeowners. Insecticides kill the good bugs along with the bad, fertilizers are dissolved salts and fungicides contain heavy metals. Enter the meadow garden, at base a grassland punctuated with blooming, nectar laden flowering perennials and other broadleaf plants. In Meadows By Design, John Greenlee describes a meadow as "a symphony of color, lights and texture." A meadow garden is its own living, ecologically-balanced environment composed of ornamental plants and grasses that suit the site conditions.

construction site before planting

Construction Remediation

The landscape after a new home construction or remodeling/addition building is often compacted hardpan in which only hardiest of weeds volunteer. In actuality, a bare site fresh off construction is prime for creating a meadow garden of native, hardy and adaptable wildflowers and grasses. Post construction, immediately covering bare earth with meadow plants prevents unwanted weeds and woody volunteers from entering the landscape and prevents erosion. Depending on your budget, we use premium seed mixes from specialty nurseries or plant plugs for a full, more immediate effect. The benefits of a wildflower swath or meadow plantings over formal gardens is lower long term maintenance with less fuel inputs and zero toxic poisons typically required for the traditional turf lawn. Meadow gardens always provide shelter and food sources for pollinators and birds in the form of native wildflowers, perennials and grasses. Another benefit is no need for endless mowing or paying for a lawn service.

Natural Lawns

The typical mainstream lawn grasses — ryes, Bermuda, zoysia, bluegrass — have been hybridized to withstand repeated close mowing by machine and heavy foot traffic but require constant watering and feeding. If you must have a lawn, consider a natural grass lawn. Native sedges and fescues — both low growing grasses — make good lawn alternatives, especially if foot traffic is minimal, and grow naturally as turf with very little mowing or cutting.

Dark Towers Penstemonand, Landini Lily and Clematis in a mourning garden

Mourning Gardens

After my friend Thom died suddenly, I found solace in creating and implementing a mourning garden in his memory. There is nothing one can do about death, no arguing, no bargaining but — working in my garden, laying black mulch for pathways, planting Belle de Nuit gladiola bulbs, inserting one black raspberry into the golden raspberry patch, somehow gave me the opportunity to feel as if I had some sort of say in Thom's death. The earth responded — beautifully — to his passing by filling his absence with new plants and symbolic blooms in his honor. It kept my hands and mind busy while my heart started the slow process of healing. I chose black, brown and deeply purple hued plants to add to my existing edible and flower garden. Black iris, dark purple penstemon, black radish, purple pole beans, brown huechera, black raspberries, deep red canna, black mondo grass. A mourning garden can be as basic as adding dark colored annuals and perennials or it might involve selecting a single extraordinary specimen tree or shrub to honor your loved one's passing. Annuals provide the most instant mourning color for your garden while perennials and woody trees and shrubs will last for many years, as living monuments to the deceased. We can assist you in garbing your garden in mourning for a season or for the years to come by helping you choose appropriate plants for your specific garden environment and ecology.

Wildlife Gardens

I often receive requests for gardens to attract and sustain birds. Both the diets and nesting sites of birds vary. Some nest in canopy trees while others are ground nesters, preferring the shelter of clump forming native grasses and shrubs. Non-migratory birds require winter shelter in the form of needled evergreens. So, creating a habitat for birds is best accomplished with a multi-faceted approach of providing food in the form of insects and berries and shelter via evergreens, understory trees and meadow areas including clump forming ornamental and native grasses. Native plant materials offer the best possible environment for birds, pollinators and other critters of a healthy ecological system.

leaf pattern