6 Steps for Installing a Native Wildflower Meadow

Native wildflower meadow

Native wildflower meadow

Wildflower Meadow – Holcombe Hill, Newtown, CT. We’ve been talking about meadows for many years. And yes, we’re passionate about planting them here at HFG. Why? There are many benefits to you, the homeowner, and even more to Mother Earth.

By planting natives, the foundation plant of a meadow, you become part of the ever-important link between native plant species and native wildlife, including birds, insects, bees, and more. And, you get to say goodbye to mowing that section of your lawn, which saves you time and money – and has additional sustainable benefits to our environment. 

Native meadow as yard

Mow time is cut in half and beauty exudes.

This statistic really hits home. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one hour of operating a new gasoline lawn mower emits the same amount of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide as driving a new car 45 miles. Garden equipment engines produce up to 5% of the nation’s air pollution. Sobering.

Summer blooms in native meadow

Early summer blooms in this local, native meadow.Now, let’s get back to what it takes to install a meadow on your property – large or small.

Proper meadow installation will only be successful if you use the correct preparation methods to avoid pitfalls. We typically start by making sure enough time is spent ridding your area of aggressive plants and mowing the meadow down the first year when the height of the growth reaches 12”. These are general best practices. There are many other exceptions and nuances to consider when installing a meadow, but don’t let it overwhelm you – we are always here to help!


6 Steps for Meadow Success: 


1. Selecting a location: Find a suitable, open location that receives approximately 6 hours of sunlight each day.

2. Assessment of site: Assess the existing vegetation. What plants are currently growing at this point in time? This step will determine what happens next.

3. Prepping the site: This step can be the most labor-intensive step based on what vegetation is in place. If the area is comprised of many woody, shrubby, or large thorny plants and/or aggressive non-natives, these will have to be removed first. Methods for ridding the area of these tough plants might include mechanical removal, burning, or selective herbicide treatment. 


If the area contains mostly existing lawn and other cool season grasses, we rid this area of vegetation by:


Mechanical removal: We prefer a sod cutter in areas where minimal stone and a good stand of existing grass are present.

Solarizing & Mowing: First, we start by mowing the grassy vegetation as low as possible (scalp mow) and then we often solarize the area by placing a plastic sheet over the top of the vegetation. Depending on the type of vegetation present (and if it’s an aggressive species), we would leave the sheeting in place for a minimum of 3 months. 

Solarizing the site and prepping it for planting

The solarization process is underway.

Once the vegetation is removed, we prefer to let the area grow out again, especially if there are a lot of aggressive annual weeds such as crabgrass that have seeds lying dormant in the soil, just waiting for the chance to germinate. Once these begin to grow again, we revisit mowing, spraying, and solarizing, or even all three! If we opt to spray, we will use a non-selective herbicide at this point, or even a natural mix of vinegar, salt, lemon juice, and soap to kill the shoot growth. Unfortunately, these organic sprays do not translocate to the root zone and will only kill off the shoots, so several repeat applications may be needed. 

4. Seeding…the fun part! After the site is generally weed free, it’s time to seed the area. We would collaborate with you on choosing a native seed mix suited to the area and growing conditions: dry, wet, or average soils.

How do we plant all of these seeds you ask? If the area is a manageable size, we lightly fracture the top surface of the soil using a stiff metal garden rake. For larger meadows, we like to use a rake towed behind a tractor or we may opt for a drill seeder. This method is used to evenly and efficiently fracture the soil and distribute the seed. Once the soil is ready and the seeding rates have been established, we prefer to mix the seed in a carrier such as a clay kitty litter container (yes, I said kitty litter!) to aid in distribution – it works well.

After seeding, a light covering of hay is laid down to protect the seed from birds and from washing away in potentially heavy rainfall.

Hay is laid for protection

Hay is laid for protection.

5. A daily rain dance: This important method may be needed and is dependent on what type of weather pattern we’re having. Praying for rain can also help.

6. The final critical step: Once your meadow reaches 12-18” the first season, we will need to mow the area down (even if there are flowers…yes, tough…we know!). We do this at a minimum until late July – it allows the young developing flowers to become strong enough to stand up against the more aggressive grasses in the seed mix.

fall native meadow

This homeowner is now reaping the reward – seasonal beauty.

Sit back and enjoy your, new, ever-changing landscape – complete with all of its seasonal offerings while knowing you’ve given a special gift back to our friend Mother Nature.

Poolscaping 101

antique property with pool and landscaping
Bucolic Antique

Before you start planting, consider the following:

Color: Ensure you have continuous color from spring through late fall. Pines, ferns, and hostas provide a relaxing, cool feel, while black-eyed susans, echinacea, and lilies add pops of color. Mulch adds a finishing touch and the earth tone accentuates the plants from the hardscape area of your pool.

Texture: Different plants provide different textures. Ferns and grasses add movement, allure, and an ethereal feel along with a Zen atmosphere of calm and coolness.

Visual appeal: Potted palms, papyrus, and banana trees add an authentic tropical island feel. They’re also hardy enough to handle splashes of pool water with chlorine, saline pool water, and pool cleaning chemicals. Bonus! You can bring these plants inside to overwinter for year-round enjoyment.

Longevity: You don’t want to plant new trees, shrubs, and flowers every year (except for a few annuals). Be sure to invest in plants that are well-suited to our fluctuating climate.

Privacy: Arborvitae and other shrubs provide natural screens to keep your area private while you and your family enjoy your pool.

Poolside landscaping softens hardscapes
Bucolic Antique

PROFESSIONAL TIP: It’s best to consider starting with native plants (our specialty!) because they handle the New England climate well and can tolerate dry periods, as well as the changing seasons.

Hydrangeas soften pool harscape
Hydrangea lineup
Poolscaping at its best with color, texture and outdoor lighting
Poolside at dusk

Welcome Fall & the Wonders of Water Features

Welcome to the Fall Edition of our Quarterly Newsletter! 

The Pumpkin Spice Everything season has arrived, and that means a busy time in the garden on all fronts. Fall is a great time to get to work on the usual end of season checklist but it’s also a time to move forward with your wishlist… from planning out a fresh garden design… to planting that cool specimen tree you’ve been dreaming of… to creating that new perennial bed with the plants you scored at that great end of season sale. On our end, we’ll be doing a bit of all of this right alongside you.

Water Features – A Multi-Sensory Experience  
water feature in landscape
Heron admiring the view

Soul soothing and beneficial to local wildlife, a water feature, be it a pond, stream, or waterfall, provides instant relaxation and peace to your property. We regularly collaborate with Cooper Ponds – Danbury, CT on the design, installation, and drainage requirements for custom water features in our area. Not only does a water feature add value to your home, it significantly cools the temperature of your outdoor space creating an environment you can enjoy on a hot summer day.

natural stream
Recreation of a natural woodland stream
It’s time to plant bulbs & spruce up those outdoor containers! 

If you’re in need of bulb planting or adding a custom fall container or two… just reach out.
We are here to help!

bulb and container garden

Photo Contest

Icelandic Container Garden
Icelandic Container Garden


Keep Those Photos Coming!

Submit your garden or plant-inspired photos by November 1st to be entered to win one of our exciting prizes!

The Details

We are looking for shots that capture the beauty, color, creativity and candidness captured in your own garden setting. Photos that bring your garden to life!

Enter your best shots in our 2021 Photo Contest and you could win…

1st place – one 10-foot flowering tree installed by Holmes Fine Gardens

2nd place – a 1-year membership to New York Botanical Gardens ($90 value + 2 complimentary Member passes)

3rd place – a $50 Gift Certificate to Shakespeare’s Gardens

  • Email no more than 3 of your best photos to –[email protected]
  • All entries must be sent in by November 1st
  • Prizes will be awarded on December 1, 2021
***Should you NOT want your submitted photos used in our future marketing material including print and internet please note this in your return email. Should we use one of your photos we will, of course, give you a photo credit!


Sweetness Every Season
Sweet Bay Magnolia
Sweet Bay Magnolia
















Magnolia virginiana – Sweet Bay Magnolia  

Sweetbay magnolia is a small, gracefully shaped tree that has a lot to offer throughout all four seasons. This native ornamental bears attractive, lemon-scented flowers in spring and sporadically through the summer. Glossy green foliage persists on the tree nearly all year long. Showy red cone-like fruit provides color, interest, and food for wildlife in fall, and smooth gray bark adds beautiful color and contrast in winter.


Welcome to Sweet Dirt! In this section of our newsletter, you’ll find links to local activities to seek out, books to read, movies to watch, and other tidbits – all with a nod towards the horticultural world we love.
The Perfect Season to Take a Hike!
Holcombe Hill Nature Reserve
Holcombe Hill Nature Reserve

Reconnect with nature during this colorful time of year by exploring one of Newtown’s many parcels of protected lands – forest bathing at its best! Over the years, the Newtown Forest Association has done a tremendous job protecting more than 1,100 acres of open space, forest, farmland, wildlife, nature preserves, and watersheds throughout Newtown with the goal of sustaining these beautiful spaces for future generations.

Some of our favorite protected lands worth exploring include:

Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve:
This 86-acre parcel of land boasts an elevation of 830 ft above sea level, one of the highest points in Newtown, and offers spectacular views of three counties from its 30 acres. The preserve is the perfect place for dog walking on freshly mowed/maintained pathways, a photoshoot from the highest point, or a woodland exploration along its edges. Be sure to take note of the everchanging native plants that truly bring beauty to every season.

Nettleton Preserve:
Offering the most spectacular view in Newtown, Nettleton Preserve is the start of a five-mile hike that terminates 5 miles north on a horizon of rolling hills. This Preserve offers the opportunity for a short meander through the immediate fields and is also a popular spot to sit with a cup of coffee and admire the view from one of the highest points in town. Holmes Fine Gardens contributed to this outdoor space by planting a variety of disease-resistant crabapple trees at the start of this bucolic trail. Varieties include: Prairie Fire, Floribuyda, Adams & Donald Wyman.

Brunot Preserve – Meadows:
The magic of the meadows awaits as you stroll through the woods and over gently rolling hills on this 3.1 mile loop. The west side of the property will take you in and out of Bethel. Fun Fact: James Brunot is known for having produced the board game Scrabble and manufactured the wooden pieces locally.

Hattertown Pond Preserve:
This 28-acre property is chock-full of a little bit of everything including two streams, wetlands, ponds and vernal pools, beautiful rolling woodlands, unique stone walls, and evidence of historical agricultural activities. What more could you ask for in a hike?

White native aster
White native aster