Meadow grasses for eastern PA

Asked March 25, 2016, 7:32 AM EDT

At my home on 1.3 acres, part of the lawn is a meadow with grasses that are cut once a year. I plan to convert part of the regular lawn into more meadow area and need to identify the appropriate grass or grasses to grow. The existing meadow grasses grow about 6-9" tall and produce seed stems. They are cut down once a year in the fall. Please provide any help you can in determining what kind of grass seed I should plant. If it makes sense, I could bring a sample of the existing grass to an appropriate expert to help identify it. Thanks Ray Raymond C Gray Easton, PA 18042

Northampton County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Meadow grasses are beautiful, especially when interlaced with wild flowers. The most important thing to do is to not let invasives like Japanese stilt grass get established while you are establishing the desirable plants. In fact, this is the biggest challenge to a Meadow. Plants like bindweed with a 12 foot tap root can insinuate themselves. Penn State Extension has a good publication about turning lawn into meadow. It will give you some do's and don'ts to get you started.
I recommend you do this conversion in manageable steps so you don't get overwhelmed by weeds. The seeds of weeds form a seed bank in the soil, and will germinate if they get sunshine.

  1. remove and a section of your turf grass and put it in your compost pile
  2. take a forked spade and push it into the bare ground as far as it will go. Wiggle the spade to loosen the soil and then add compost in the holes.
  3. put a good mulch over the bare soil to discourage weeds while you are preparing to plant. Undyed wood chips are good as is newspaper and cardboard.
  4. learn about the germinating time for various grasses and flowers if you are using seeds. Make sure you select the right plants for the conditions,
  5. encourage your current meadow to move into the former lawn by starting at the boundary line with the meadow. Given a chance, the existing plants may do a lot of the work.
  6. Try to include mints like anise hyssop that are real attractors for bees and pollinators.
  7. Create paths through the meadow so you can do maintenance. The paths can be subtle with hidden entrances, but all landscaping features need to be accessible or they will gradually be taken over by weeds.
Good luck. Meadows are so beautiful.