Meadow not Lawn? Yes, tell us how we can improve the health of our creeks!

Julie Slavet
Jan 6, 2020

By Ryan Neuman, Upstream Conservation Leader

We wondered: would people be interested in learning how to convert their suburban yard to a meadow? In mid-November,  we learned that the answer is “Yes!” Residents from across Montgomery County, as well as from Philadelphia, came together at the Basilian Spirituality Center in Jenkintown for a presentation on how to convert turf grass lawn to a more naturalized meadow.

Co-sponsored with Wyncote Audubon, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Cheltenham EAC, Jenkintown EAC, Abington EAC, and Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, this event brought over 40 residents together from the surrounding area to learn about how they can improve the health of our creeks by making changes on their own properties.

Sue Myerov and Paul Racette from the Pennsylvania Environmental Council discussed topics that ranged from the water cycle, to native plant selection to township ordinances, all with the common goal of promoting a shift from turf grass to more native meadow plants. These meadows can save you money on lawn care and attract beautiful birds and butterflies.

Attendees heard watershed basics and the challenges facing our urban watershed. Paul and Sue discussed the negatives of a manicured lawn, such as the fact that soil compaction is 50-100% greater than woodlands and forest, and the positives of the cost saving benefits of a more naturalized yard.  They explained the various ways that one can go about creating a meadow habitat. These methods range from removing all existing turf grass and planting native containerized plants, to doing as little as reducing mowing, and removing weeds as they appear.

Another important takeaway is that there are ways to make a meadow look manicured, giving the impression that people are caring for this site, and that it isn’t just an unruly mess. Mowing edges is an important component of this strategy, plus keeping areas defined, and even including fences or signs. Other cues can be flowering plants and trees, and features such as pollinator hotels or bird houses.  Also, it’s important to know how local ordinances in your township treat residential meadows!

The largest land use in our watershed is residential properties like yours! Your actions can improve the health of our creeks.  No action is too small!

We hope you’ll learn more about our award winning restoration projects right in your backyard. Please be sure to check out our newest restoration program which helps residential property owners install green stormwater infrastructure features: Streamsmart.


Missed the workshop?  Check out photos. You can download the Lawn to Meadow Presentation and a Landscaping with Native Plants guide.

Enjoy the workshop? Remember to thank all of our amazing partners, and keep an eye on our calendar for more workshops in the spring!

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