Some design suggestions:
— Create borders using hedges, mowed edges, low fences or walkways. They act as buffers, keep plants from obstructing sight lines and frame an otherwise natural landscape, Brittingham said.
— Start small. Save money by converting from turf to meadow in manageable yet visible pieces. First, eliminate any trouble spots on the lawn, and then expand gradually, mimicking nature’s processes of gradual succession.
— Find the right plants for the right sites. Don’t plant sun-loving prairie flowers under shade trees, or plants that like their feet dry in low spots that collect run-off.
— Go native. Non-native species generally have less wildlife value, Brittingham said, and are often invasive, eliminating many native species. Check the noxious weed control lists issued for your area and ensure that none are included among the seeds you sow or in the containers you plant.
— Help spread the word. Draw a map of your natural landscape and make it available through brochures placed around your yard. “You might even include a listing of the plants you used and where you got them,” Brittingham said.
— Humanize the project. Add yard art or something personal and whimsical, Steiner said. “For accent and embellishment, rusted iron sculptural pieces blend nicely with the casual look of a prairie landscape. Sundials are nice additions to gardens featuring these sun-loving plants. Birdbaths made of ceramic or stone are practical as well as beautiful.”
By illustrating that your landscape is cared for and designed intentionally, you’ll show that you haven’t just allowed “weeds” to take over, Steiner said.