Managing Pollinator Meadows
Now that you have established a meadow, you need to know how to maintain it for years to come. Most of the mixes include annuals and perennial flowers. The annual flowers set seed and can reseed themselves the following year with proper management. The perennials flowers will come back year after year, but still require management. Without proper management over time, invasive species and wood species may start to become establish and take over the planting.
The first year:
If you planted your meadow planting in the spring, it will require one mowing in the winter after frost when the vegetation has died out. Set your mower to 4-5" tall so you are letting enough cover for winter and not destroying any grow points on grasses or perennial flowers. If you wait until February or March to mow, it provides wildlife with some cover and some seeds for food for birds through winter.
If you just seeded your meadow in the fall, you don't have to worry about maintenance the first year.
For those spring plantings, wait until there is about 6" of new growth in the field and then mow the field at a height of 4- 5". Then sit back and enjoy the spring, summer and fall blooms! Then once again, mow the field in winter after frost when the vegetation has died out.
For the fall plantings, they will just be getting started. Enjoy the blooms for spring, summer and fall. Then perform your first mowing after frost and the vegetation has died out to mow it. Mow it at a height of 4-5".
Third year and beyond:
For spring plants repeat the maintenance outlined in second year for the future of the meadow.
For the fall plantings, now that they are established, wait until there is about 6" of new growth in the field then mow the field in early spring at a height of 4-5". Sit back and enjoy the meadow through spring, summer and fall. Then perform the winter mowing maintenance. Continue this maintenance for the future of the meadow.
With proper management these meadows can last 10, 20, 30 years. As long as the invasive species and wood plants are properly maintained each year. It's recommended to scout for invasive species a few times each season in the meadows. You can pull invasive species or spot treat with herbicide if you find them early, they can be easily managed. Without management, they will take over quickly. Invasive species are easily introduced to these sights by wildlife, so scout often!