%@ Page Language="VB" ContentType="text/html" ResponseEncoding="iso-8859-1" %>
Native Warm-Season Grass MeadowOur native grass meadow, planted in 2004, is one of 6 fields on Fairview Farm that were eligible for Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Grassland areas are becoming increasingly rare in northern New Jersey which is why Fairview Farm was eligible for such funding. The combination of old hedgerows and early stage successional fields are attractive to many kinds of wildlife, such as sparrows, warblers and various insects.
As more and more farms disappear from the landscape, grassland meadows can be considered an excellent low maintenance alternative to lawns or agricultural crops. Native warm season grasses, as opposed to the cool season invasive grasses which most lawns are composed of, green up later in the season. As a result, they produce seed later in the season which is an important benefit to birds. They flourish at a greater height than cool season grasses, offering micro-habitats to small wildlife species. They also stand up well all winter, even after heavy rains and snows, providing important winter cover for resident bird species. While slow to get established, after 2-3 years, these grasses develop tremendous root systems that allow for a drought tolerant alternative to lawn or hay fields, while also providing effective erosion control over time. Warm season grasses are not prone to deer browse, making them especially attractive in high deer density areas.
To begin our grass meadow, the area was cleared of all vegetation in the fall by use of a brush hog and an application of mild herbicide. A native grass mix was drilled in the spring. The field was mowed in the fall after the initial planting and then left to grow for 2-3 years. At this point, the warm season grasses should be well established and mowing should take place every other year. To encourage warm-season grasses, the meadow is mowed at a height of 8-12 inches.
There has been a lot of research and development in native seed mixes for success in a variety of conditions. When purchasing a seed mix, be sure it does not include invasive cool season grasses. A good source for purchasing warm season grass seed mixes that are native to NJ is Bowman's Hills Wildflower Preserve and Ernst Conservation Seeds.
Click on the following links to learn more about Fairview Farms Gardens:
Bird and Butterfly Garden
Native Shrub Border
Native Wildflower Meadow
Native Warm-Season Grass Meadow
Native Tree and Shrub List