My partner and I moved into a new home in late June and with it came a delightful mix of already-established gardens. But being the garden-fanatics that we are, we still wanted some projects to call our own without disturbing the existing garden beds.
We thought of designing a new perennial bed, but by the time we moved in we just didn’t have the time, what with unpacking, painting, and all of those other fun things that accompany a move. Low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers seemed like the perfect answer. We could make our mark and get the satisfaction of watching something grow, minus the fuss and thought that go along with installing a formal garden.
Preparing the area for low maintenance landscaping
Jeremiah had one area that he wanted to plant and I had my own. He tilled a three-foot area in an L-shape on the inside of our fence, lining the back of our property. He found that it worked best if he weed-whacked the grass down to almost nothing before tilling. This area was in great shape and didn’t need any additional soil or compost added to it before planting.
My planting area abutted our stone patio and essentially extended an already-established bed by about four feet. This spot was a little harder to clear, with its stubborn roots and rocky soil. I had to bring in re-enforcements (my mom and dad) before planting, who helped me hand-pull the remaining grass and add in some compost to help enrich the soil. This was a bigger job than we originally thought, but was definitely worth it in the end.
After we had prepped these areas, Jeremiah set a large Mockorange shrub he got from work in front of our screened porch, creating a circular garden bed around it. The perfect spot to add any leftover seed!
Choosing the seed
Jeremiah is all about low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers, so he chose the Northeast Wildflower Mix in his wildflower bed, which produces plenty of color in the first season and continues to bloom year after year. He is also obsessed with Sunflowers, so he mixed a pound of the Sunflower Seed Mix in with the Northeast Mix.
I’m a little – um – higher-maintenance, and decided that I want to plant my wildflower bed so that it would bloom each season with a different mix of annuals. I love experimenting in the garden and see this bed as a place to have some fun. I planted Zinnia Purple Prince, Zinnia Luminosa, Baby Snapdragons, Black Eyed Susans, Sunflowers and Sweet William. This garden had a pink and yellow color scheme and I knew going in that the Black Eyed Susans might not bloom until next year. The Sweet William were also a plan for next season – we planted them in Jeremiah’s parents’ garden last year and they are just spectacular.
Regional Wildflower Seed Mixes:
Planting with wildflowers
Planting the wildflowers was definitely the easiest part of the process. I mixed the seed in an old ice-cream bucket and hand scattered it on the bare ground with Jeremiah following behind to step on the seed, compressing it into the soil. We walked over it one more time to make sure it was packed in and then watered. Overall, the entire process of planting both beds took less than an hour.
One of the reasons we chose to plant wildflowers is there isn’t much maintenance required of the gardener after planting. But with the abnormally hot, dry summer we had here in Vermont, there wasn’t enough regular rain to help the wildflowers grow. So about twice a week (for the first few weeks), I had to connect a second hose to our first and drag it around to the back of the property to water the newly planted seeds.
Watering is one of my least favorite garden activities so let’s just say I watered the absolute bare minimum I could get away with to keep those wildflowers alive. There is a visible difference in my wildflower bed and his, because I conveniently chose to plant my wildflowers next to our hose hookup. The zinnias got more water and therefore are much taller and fuller than the ones by the fence. Such a planner, I am.
It’s a true testament to the quality of American Meadows' seed – and the durability of wildflowers in general – that we planted in early July, I only watered the back bed a handful of times, and our gardens still grew into absolutely spectacular flower beds. This is exactly what we were after - a low maintenance landscaping miracle!
Individual Wildflower Seed Species:
Enjoying the results
Even though we had to wait a little later than normal for our wildflowers to bloom because we planted so late in the season, it was undoubtedly worth it. Every day I take a trip out in the morning and early evening to survey the beds and snap photos of what’s blooming.
The Cosmos in the back bed have taken over and added a soft touch to the fence line. My wildflower bed turned out to be mostly pink and purple, but I love it anyway and learned a lot about choosing seed (which really is the point in experimenting in the garden).
We think our lovely bird population might have snacked on most of our Sunflower Seed because after planting a pound, we only have about a dozen Sunflower blooms. Next season I think we’ll bury the Sunflower seeds into the soil a bit more.
A pollinator oasis
For us, the best part of our wildflower planting has been seeing how much the pollinators enjoy – and need – the wildflowers we planted. Our property already has a variety of native plants that bring pollinators in all season long, but the wildflowers have given them a new reason to stay. Each time I head out to the wildflower gardens I notice hundreds of bees, butterflies and even several hummingbirds.
Planning more low maintenance landscaping for next season
This fall, Jeremiah is extending his wildflower bed by another four feet and adding more of the Northeast Mix. I am going to add spring-blooming bulbs to my bed this fall and more Zinnias and Cosmos. This way, once the Daffodils, Tulips and Allium finish blooming, the wildflowers will take over.
We are also digging up two large beds of orange Daylilies on the property this fall and planting the All Annual Mix as a stand-in until we can design a perennial garden. I posted on our local neighborhood forum that I would have daylilies to give away and got about 10 replies, with plenty of offers to help dig them up. I am excited to use this as a way to meet gardeners in my new town.
Wildflower Seed Mixes that Attract Pollinators:
You could definitely say we are wildflower-obsessed, with a grand plan to eventually reduce our huge lawn (almost two acres of grass) to at least 50% wildflowers and more perennial garden beds throughout. Wish us luck!
What about you – do you have a spot to try out some low maintenance landscaping with wildflowers? Tell us about it in the comments below!