Why do we have a meadow and why don’t we cut it?
The native meadow and other native plants that we have planted around the school are beneficial for water management, reducing our carbon footprint, habitat creation, and as a food source for many birds and insects. The roots of the plants in the meadow go a lot deeper than grass does, which makes it easier for water to soak into the ground, help take more pollutants out of the water, and sequesters more carbon. In the winter, birds rely on the dried seeds for food and the other material for making habitats, such as nests. In addition to making our school grounds more eco-friendly, the meadow can be a great resource to help students learn about life cycles, biodiversity, water cycles, habitat, and much more. We just installed a new paved path to our outdoor classroom and added a new sensory table, thanks to a grant from Lowe’s, to make the space more accessible and functional.
Some of the beneficial plants in the meadow include coreopsis, blue false indigo, smooth aster, butterfly mikweed, little bluestem grass, beebalm, ironweed, blackeyed susan, coneflower, woodland phlox, cardinal flower, dense blazing star, blueflag iris, rose mallow, mountain mint, goldenrod, and tick trefoil. These all provide food and habitat for pollinators and birds and other beneficial organisms. Of note, the butterfly milkweed is the only food source for young monarch butterflies, whose population has been on a sharp decline in recent years.
We also have some beneficial bushes. We have winterberry and dwarf fragrant sumac bushes around the grounds and in the sea oats that line the front entrance of the school. In 2018 we dedicated a beautyberry bush along the edge of our parking lot meadow in memory of our principal’s father, Paul Lowe.
Unfortunately, we also have a lot of invasive or aggressive plant species that we have to keep from taking over our beautiful meadow. See our list of the common invasive or aggressive species that we see in there and help us to get rid of them!