The Meadowscaping Handbook

What is meadowscaping? It’s the actual practice of designing, planting and managing an urban meadow to provide ecological functions and benefits such as pollinator habitat and stormwater improvements. Meadowscaping is an alternative to managing a turf grass lawn, which is a monoculture (single species). Meadowscaping uses a diversity of native prairie plants that are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions as well as to the needs of native wildlife. This landscaping practice uses native plant species that are deep rooted and drought resistant, offers habitat and forage for birds, pollinators, and beneficial insects, improves water infiltration, filters runoff and stores carbon. Although the vast Willamette prairies are now diminished, the urbanizing Valley is still home to 50 native species of butterflies, several of which are at-risk. While the planting of an urban meadow cannot substantially increase the numbers of endangered butterflies, it can provide habitat for other pollinators, particularly bees.

Approximately 4,000 species of bees help pollinate our crops and flowers nationwide; 600-800 of them are native to Oregon. More than 150 species of native bees likely call the Willamette Valley home. While significant media attention has been devoted in recent years to the decline of introduced European honey bees, there is also evidence of native pollinator decline. Causes of decline are difficult to pinpoint, but loss of habitat due to increased urbanization, expansion of intensive agriculture, invasive species, introduced diseases and parasites, and the widespread use of pesticides all negatively impact pollinator populations. Protecting, enhancing, or providing new habitat is the best way to conserve native pollinators.