The Q&A Archives: Meadow Garden on the Seacoast

Question: We live on the ocean in Rockport, MA, and want to grow a meadow of wild flowers and wheat type grass (12-18"). The site is very, very dry with full sun with lots of wind. What grasses and perennials would you recommend? Also, where can we buy the seeds? We plan to bring in top soil to promote growth.

Answer: Although it takes some diligence to establish such a plot, once growing, it'll be care-free! Here's how it's done: mow and till the area shallowly (2"), to raise as few weed seeds to the surface as possible. Water the area a couple of times to get weeds to sprout, and then do them in with a flame weeder or an organic herbicide (potassium salts of fatty acids) available in many garden centers. This reduces future weed competition, which is crucial to the wildflowers' ability to get established. Chill wildflower seeds in the freezer for a couple of days, then thaw for a day before planting. This breaks seed dormancy and improves germination rates. Broadcasted seed should be mixed with sand for even distribution, and then covered by raking or dragging a 2x4 across the soil. Keep the soil evenly moist with a sprinkler for 4-6 weeks to ensure good germination. Enjoy your meadow!

Burpee (ph# 800/888-1447) offers a wildflower mix for the northeast, or you can purchase a wildflower mix that and perennial grass seed from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (PO Box 2209, Grass Valley, CA 95945, ph# 888/784-1722), or you can probably find them locally at nurseries and garden centers. Best of luck!

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