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Before & After: Wildflowers Surround An 18th Century Farmhouse

By Amanda Shepard, Garden Writer & Flower Farmer

When William and Ellen Grickis renovated an 18th-century barn into a rustic farmhouse in Rhode Island, they knew they wanted the entire property — inside and out — to feel special. After working with Mike “the Seed Man” here at American Meadows, they eventually replaced 8,000 square ft. of their lawn with a colorful wildflower meadow. The result is a picturesque scene right out of a storybook; a sea of annual wildflowers encompasses their charming farmhouse and each season they add more and more of the annual varieties that have stolen their hearts.

Lawn Transformation: Why Wildflowers?

There are several reasons why the Grickis’ — and many other homeowners — decide to replace their lawn with wildflowers. Some of the best reasons to plant wildflowers:

 

  • Low Maintenance. Lawns can take hours of maintenance per week, not to mention the cost of watering and other upkeep. Once established, wildflowers (especially perennials) require little maintenance and supplemental water. They only need to be mowed back once per year and re-seeded sparingly in bare spots.

  • Aesthetically Pleasing. A meadow of wildflowers is a breathtaking sight and can turn your yard into a photo-worthy landscape for you and passers-by. It’s a gift to your community, too!

  • Less Water. Many gardeners are facing drought and water restrictions in their area. Wildflowers (especially those native to your region) require little supplemental water and will reduce your water usage dramatically.

  • More Pollinators. A lawn offers nothing to help pollinators, whereas a wildflower meadow that blooms from spring through fall delivers season-long pollen and habitat for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs in your area. You can do good through gardening, by planting a meadow!

Lawn Transformation: Finding The Right Varieties

Mike worked with the Grickis’ to come up with a special wildflower blend that fit their taste and love of flowers. Throughout the years they’ve switched up the varieties here and there but some of their favorites are colorful and long-blooming wildflowers like Zinnias, Cosmos, Sunflowers, Bachelor Buttons, and Coreopsis. These are some of the biggest colormakers in any meadow and although many of the annuals do need to be re-seeded each year, it’s totally worth it.

If you’re looking for a more “one and done” mix for planting a wildflower meadow to replace your lawn, our Regional Mixtures are a great option. We offer a Native Regional Mixture, a Pollinator Regional Mixture, and a classic Regional Mixture to choose from for each part of the country, all of which bloom from spring until fall, year after year. They don’t need to be re-seeded each season, except to sprinkle in seed where you notice bare spots. Many of our customers have had great success with planting our regional mixtures in parts of their lawn and love the rainbow of flowers that come up and bloom year after year.

Lawn Transformation: Just Go For It!

Because the Grickis’ property is in Rhode Island, Mike has been able to stop by in person and take in the beauty of their meadow firsthand. He was so inspired by their flower choices he created the All Annual Bold Color mix, so that anyone looking to replace their lawn with colorful annuals can dig in!

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should replace some (or all!) of your lawn with wildflowers, we recommend you take the leap. If you’re not sure whether it’s something you want to keep permanently, plant an annual mixture of wildflowers in the first season. These flowers grow more shallow roots and can easily be tilled under and re-seeded in the next year.

But we think once you’re sitting in your kitchen drinking coffee and looking outside at a meadow bursting with flowers, bees, and butterflies, you’ll never go back to that boring, green lawn. And just like the Grickis’, your wildflower meadow will transform your world. 

See more of the Grickis’ home in Architectural Digest.

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