When and how often should I mow my small meadow?
I have allowed my front yard to become a meadow this year. It is a small front yard in Portland, with two large maple trees along the street. (Plus a third one just on the neighbor’s side of our driveway).
Should I mow the meadow this fall, in order to accommodate raking the substantial volume of leaves? And if so, do I wait as long as possible? Or do I “leave the leaves”, and leave the meadow unmowed? Also, if I mow, is there a preferred height to mow to?
Pamela Hargest, Horticulture Professional
Your meadow looks beautiful. Mowing every year isn’t necessary, but it does help with preventing woody plants from getting established. If you do decide to mow, you’ll want to mow high (6-8″ or higher) and sometime in November. Mowing high will still allow for wildlife to nest and forage during the off season. As for the leaves, it’s up to you whether you want to leave those in place, but if you mow high in November it will chop up the leaves and provide some nice organic matter for the area.
UNH Extension published a really nice factsheet on Establishing a Wildflower Meadow, if you scroll to the bottom there is information about maintenance. UConn Extension also published a factsheet on How to Successfully Maintain a Meadow (PDF) that you might find helpful.