Northern Neck Master Naturalists
Trained & Certified Virgina Master Naturalists


Highland Place Meadow Project Meeting Notes

Highland Place Meadow Project Meeting Notes 03/07/2018


Attendees in the flesh:

  • Bryna Brennan (Master Naturalist Project Manager)
  • Bette Gruben (Owner Association Liaison)
  • Nancy Garvey (Cobbs Hall Neighborhood Liaison)
  • Betsy Washington (NN Native Plant Society & MG)
  • Liz Worsham (Native Plants)
  • Earlene Walker (NN Native Plant Society)
  • Roger Gruben NNNPS

Attendees in spirit:

  • Kyle Langford
  • Kevin Howe
  • Pam Narney


Year 1 (April 2018-April 2019)

Pilot Phase - Most Labor Intensive

  1. Do a thorough site assessment of the area to be converted to meadow. Noting areas or plants to keep, and mark and note areas of invasive plants or undesirable weeds.
  2. The land was a corn field until purchased and developed as common area surrounded by 8 residential lots in approximately 2002, at which time it was periodically bushwhacked several times a year.  Vegetation has been pretty even with native broom-sedge, purple love grass, wild carrot, and yarrow with various other plants blooming throughout the spring and summer months.
  3. There are no areas that seem to have problems draining and the entire plat is relatively flat at 10-12 feet above sea level. 
  4. Undesirable vegetation and invasive plants will be identified and eliminated before any seeding or planting begins. If limited invasive and weedy plants, spot treating by digging, repeated cutting will occur so that plants can’t grow enough to photosynthesize, or herbicide treatment may be required. The more you can eliminate before any planting the better! There will be a handout on how to prepare the site, summarizing strategies to prepare the site and eliminate weeds, etc. that will discuss some pros and cons of various methods.
  5. Select the best palette of seeds for each area identified based on likelihood of weed competition and soil moisture/drainage levels. Even level sites will have some micro-variation within them!
  6. Map out the areas next to the path to keep initial plantings at a manageable level.  Work will be performed in phases over a period of years, getting areas next to the path past the heavy management and weeding required during the first couple of years.
  7. Plant native seed and plants in test beds along a path (leading from the pump house to the mailboxes) to see what works well with soil, sun, and moisture conditions of the specific field.  Also see what comes up naturally in existing growth.  Observe which plants attract wildlife and which are resistant while improving aesthetics.  We will not be putting down mulch or gravel for the path as it will change as the plantings develop.  It will simply be a well-mowed path about 4 feet wide (that's how wide our mower is) that the Grubens will keep mowed as they mow their own property.

Year 2 (April 2019-April 2020)

  1. Continue to monitor field for new weed seedlings and woody invaders and weed and eliminate regularly with as little soil disturbance as possible. As I understand our strategy of working with existing meadow plants, additional seeding and planting will continue as weeds are eliminated and controlled and before planting fills in. Apply Lessons Learned
  2. Selective mowing at a height just above desirable warm season plants, several times the first spring to discourage and weaken cool season weeds, can encourage more warm season meadow plants at the expense of your cool season weeds. I am not as familiar if this can be done with a bush-hog, weed-whacker or tractor with device that can mow at a high height. This might be a 6” early in spring but at 12” later in spring. If there are lots of weeds or noxious plants that need treating, seeding and planting may need to be delayed. I gather from talking to you that you don’t anticipate too many weed problems???
  3. Cultivate volunteers, continue to remove invasive plants, encourage spreading of natives that worked well in year one.  Possibly mow at the end of the growing season with a tractor that cuts above the cultivated plants, if needed.

Year 3 (April 2020-April 2021) -

Continue to cultivate

  1. Expand initial beds and start some new ones with seed and plant separation from original.  Remove invasive plants and propagate successful plantings and seeds. By year 3, plantings should help taking over and competition with weeds will be less prevalent.

Beyond Year 3

More of the same

  1. Continue to propagate and remove invasives, possibly mowing each year after the growing season, keeping the 2+ acres as a living meadow under careful management and enjoying the beauty of the wildlife and pollinators that will be attracted to the space.

Other notes:

Good news is that we do not have to either bushwhack or burn as the grasses currently growing are conducive to cultivating a meadow. I have not done a site assessment here, so you all will be the experts on identifying what noxious weeds or undesirable plants and woodies exist on site. Do you have photos or notes from past years? They would be helpful. Your information and site assessment will determine next steps and require intervention. Burning is more of a long-term management strategy of your new meadow. We will also not use chemical herbicides or pesticides unless absolutely necessary.  Otherwise, all invasive plants will be removed manually, by cutting near ground and painting cuts with herbicide or removing carefully so as not to disturb soil and generate new weed seed germination.

The first volunteer event will be to mow a path and to start plantings of seeds and small plants along a path from the pump house to the edge of the meadow near the mailboxes.  Bette will send out a doodle (gathering request) to all signed up volunteers to come help when weather gets a bit warmer and we have plants and seeds to plant.  

Bryna has a one-page insert that she is going to have at the Master Gardeners Seminar and hopes to have them include in their handouts.  If not, we will hand them out at the NNNPS booth and Master Naturalist Booth as well.


MeadowsBette Gruben