How to convert a large lawn into a meadow/orchard

Asked October 13, 2019, 1:10 PM EDT

I recently bought a home in the country (Holt) and it has 90% lawn. I would like to restore it to a natural environment with trees grasses or other native vegetation. Who could I contact to evaluate and design a reversion back from this monstrosity of lawn? Is there a company or group you could recommend? Thank you.

Ingham County Michigan

3 Responses

That is a great idea to create a landscape with more biodiversity or opportunities for food production. I love to see questions like this one on Ask An Expert!

The first thing you'll want to do is test the soil to determine what type of fruit trees or native vegetation will grow best at the site. If you do this soon, you may be able to complete this before the ground freezes.

The amount of sun and shading at the site will determine which plant species will thrive. From your photos, it appears that you have areas of full sun and partial sun. The plant selection tool, at the next link, will guide you through a comprehensive list of possible plants based on soil type, shading, and bloom period. I would strongly recommend trying to include plant species that are attractive to pollinators and insect natural enemies. Most of these have attractive flowers, and they will provide pollen and nectar to beneficial insects.

Another thing to consider when transforming the landscape to one that includes perennials is that it may take 2-3 years for the plants to grow to the desired height and create the appearance you're looking for.

If fruit trees are your preference, take a look at the resources under the preparing the site for fruit production section at the following link: Growing tree fruit in the backyard will require much care and possibly fungicides and insecticides to obtain fruits that aren't completely damaged by insects and fungal diseases.

We can't recommend a particular company for landscape design jobs. Once you know your soil type and pH, consider the types of plants that are adapted to it, and identify any species that are visually appealing, you will be in a more knowledgeable place should you opt to have a conversation with a company that assists in creating a new landscape.

Thank you very much Dr. Lowenstein. May I ask what type of 'company' I would contact to help create the new landscape. I have significant health issues, or I would be out digging and prepping myself. Thank you again, this provides me with no pun intended, groundwork!

Someone who is a landscape designer would be the correct field. Your local garden store or chapter of extension master gardeners may be familiar with local landscape designers. Here is the link for the extension master gardener association in the East Lansing area