Transition from Turf to Meadow Using Spring Annuals as First Step

When I first met with the owners of Blue Poppy Farm, we stood surrounded by endless turf.  They said, “We ride the horses into the woods around here and it’s so beautiful out there.    ” Can you make this look more like that?”

The transition will take years. The long term goal includes Sandhills meadow as well as Sandhill woody plants. A small lily pond, a martin house and of course, pretty flowers. It’s not to be a replica of what our Sandhill look like now. It’s to be inspired by that.

You can see the existing expanse of turf under the sketch.

The first step was design; making sure the traffic flow for people and horses worked. Design includes working out which plants go where and figuring out if those plants are available.  We grew some hard to find natives for this meadow. We considered horse toxicity too. Planting design challenges engage me.

The second step is turning the very healthy bermuda turf into planting beds.  We used a general herbicide to kill the existing turf. Waited two weeks, then sprayed again spots that we’d missed. Then on top of the dead turf, spread an inch layer (a tractor trailer full) of compost.  We didn’t till — that would bring up weed seeds. For step three we planted perennials using dormant, small plugs then spread compost again to cover up existing weed seeds. And finally on a rainy day in November, we spread seeds of winter growing, spring flowers ephemerals; poppies, mustard, field flax and Moroccan toadflax and lots of larkspur.

In the video you see the meadow of larkspur and rye grass.  Emerging are plugs of Panicum, Spartina, Muhly grass.  As well as goldenrod, salvias, eupatorium, crinum, baptisia and amsonia. All that is just inches tall.

In June, we’ll cut back the spring flowers to reveal and encourage the perennials.

Turf sprayed with paint to help visualize the new meadow and traffic patterns.













Larkspur used as a visual transition from turf (and pear tree art) to woods on a different farm.


Wildflower Seeds  from  Wildseed Farms

SC Native Plants from  Naturescapes Beaufort

Other Meadows We’ve Made 

Here’s a short video of the larkspur meadow as it looked yesterday, about 8 months since the start of the project.  (If the video doesn’t load, just click here to see it)


  1. William Balk on May 4, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    lovely……we’ll need to see it as it matures! what larkspur seed mix did you use – these seem more varied in color and more intense than most mixtures I’ve seen.

  2. paulina on May 5, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Jenks, Love this. It\’s absolutely stunning ! Looking forward to seeing Blue Poppy Farm continue to morph as time goes on!

  3. lennie on May 5, 2018 at 11:40 am

    wow looks great!

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