I have a 1.05 acre property mostly in lawn. The largest extent of lawn is in...

Asked May 27, 2015, 6:34 PM EDT

I have a 1.05 acre property mostly in lawn. The largest extent of lawn is in the front yard where the septic field is located. I wonder what would be the result of simply letting the grass grow over most of this area with mowings limited to two or three per season. I would have to hire this work to someone who had what I refer to as a bushhog [sp] mower. Would I eventually establish a meadow? I would monitor it to the prevent thistle from taking over, but would like to have a mostly hands off approach. I have no homeowner associations issues, although that's not to say that some neighbors would be totally happy. One has already said in reply to my plan that it would attract snakes, all of which she despises. We already have groundhogs, of course, but they do seem to prefer the farming areas. Such a repurposed lawn expanse would not only save me much time on mowing chores, but it would also save on emissions caused by that activity. A meadow would also seem to help with storm water runoff. So, can this be done as easily as I propose. Would my septic field be adversely impacted? Are there other downsides to consider, including attracting nuisance wildlife? I can't easily attach a photo, but I don't think that would be particularly useful anyway. Sending a 2nd time as it did not seem to transmit

Frederick County Maryland

1 Response

If you mow your grass 2-3 times a year, you'll still have a grassy field. Grass is a relatively aggressive plant and will outcompete native wildflowers, etc.

If you want to establish a true meadow, with wildflowers and other flowering plants, you'll need to kill the acre of turf, plow, and plant a meadow seed mix appropriate for your area. You can find these one the internet. Then, you can only mow once every 2 years, because these flowers will be perennial plants. They need to establish their root systems and they need their upper leaves to produce starches which they save in the roots and use as energy to send up top growth the next year. Mowing should be done in late winter-early spring, before new growth begins. (No point in the plant putting out new growth and then getting it mowed off, wasting that energy.) Also, you don't want to be mowing when there are baby animals and bird nests there. Mowing every 2 years or so also prevent woody plants from getting established. If you let woody plants remain--and they will appear as part of natural succession--then eventually you'll have a woods, not a meadow.

If that sounds like more than your bargained for, but you only want to mow 2-3 times a year, just do that. It will be rough, but will look like a grassy space. Another option is to plant hardy fescue, which will stay shorter but should only be mowed about 2-3 times a year.