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Starting a meadow

Over the summer we started a landscaping project that will probably take a few years to complete. It started out innocently enough - we wanted to put in a fence to have ornamental plants and possibly a dog. Then we started adding the prerequisites: taking down the dead maple that would likely fall on the fence and make us redo the work, planning the automated watering, and doing something about the giant pit taking up 1/3 of the yard.

It wasn’t practical to put in a fence taking that pit onto account and then try to fix it later. That would have meant retooling the whole fence again. We came up with a drawing of what we wanted, called in the contractors and ended up with a large flat yard with a couple of tiers and paths bridging the height difference between it and the house.

After completing the foundation, the real work started.

I started looking around for grass seed. I was looking for something that would handle the soggy spring runoff and the hot July weather equally well and not go to moss, as the rest of the sodded yard has done. I figured that native plants would be best for this, since there was no way we were going to water 2+ times a week in that lower meadow. That’s just crazy talk.

So I ended up at Pacific Northwest Natives. All the other grass seed vendors were using grasses designed for Montana as their “Northwest” stock. Elevation aside, the climate difference between the west Cascades and the Rockies is enormous and their version of “west” just wouldn’t cut it.

I agonized over what grasses I wanted in our custom mix for ages, looking at the PLANT database and trying to figure out which grasses would do best in our mix of conditions. Finally, Craig made the following suggestion:

20% California oatgrass
20% roemers fescue
20% western fescue
20% pine bluegrass
10% spike bentgrass
10% slender hairgrass

This mix can only be mown 2-3 times a year, so I was sold!

When the 50 lbs of seed arrived, I was able to borrow a seed/fertilizer distributor and find the right setting to get the right coverage. I got enough seed down to cover most of the yard.

Then we had a mini-flood. Rain came down in buckets and tried to wash away all the seed I’d just put down. I had counted on birds eating some of the seed, but not on enough rain to wash it all down the hills. Fortunately, it had stuck in some places and just washed the rest down to the flats.

Two weeks ago I went out to check on something else entirely, and noticed a green sheen on the ground. Getting closer, I could see the new sprouts. I’m so excited to see what happens this spring (provided the snow doesn’t kill the seedlings).

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.


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well posted! The meadow you are building is totally kick ass. I love that you agonized over the grass blend (that's so YOU!).

How's the snow by you?

4 inches deep. What about you?

And yes, the agony. I lov ehow I do that to myself. :P

we've got about 1.5 inches over a sheet of ice in most parts. Fun! Of the 50+ folks that work under my VP, 5 showed up. The VP emailed everyone and said, don't come in. And then she closed the office and told the 4 other brave souls who were there to go home via email. A few minutes later we got the official message that the University was closed. Some of my co-workers tried to make it in via the buses and one by one the bus lines were shut down...stranding them at random transfer points. Suck! I'm glad we turned around a few blocks from our house and chose to stay home today!

Yeah, I looked out this morning and said no way. The driveway would have eaten the car.

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