What Are Meadows & Why Are They Important?

Meadows are a beautiful and peaceful habitat. We can enjoy the sounds of nature in an open environment. A meadow is more than just an open field. Meadows are diverse, dynamic habitats dominated by herbaceous plants, including native grasses and wildflowers.

Meadow habitats are often overlooked, but they are critical homes to many wildflowers and pollinators.

Monarchs & Meadows sculpture at Green Bay Botanical Garden

Why Are They Important?

Meadows provide cover, food, and nesting sites for birds, insects and other wildlife. Without this important habitat, these species would disappear. Meadows also absorb storm water runoff, helping prevent flooding and soil erosion.

Meadow in Ohio

Why Are They Disappearing?

You used to be able to find meadows everywhere. They were widespread across the United States. But over time they have declined due to development and agriculture. Many conservationists are working hard to restore these important habitats. A single meadow can contain more than 200 plant species!

Meadow in Wisconsin

How You Can Help

How can you help protect these intricate habitats?

  • Talk with your community members to promote community gardens and fill them with native plants.
  • Within your own landscape, you can replace part of your lawn with a meadow that is filled with native flowers and plants.
  • Avoid using harmful pesticides to promote good bugs and healthy growth.
  • The final lawn cut of the season is tempting but try and leave grasses up through the winter to avoid disturbing insects and other wildlife nesting and hibernating.
  • You and your community can advocate for open land protection in your community.

Want to learn more about meadows? Visit the Garden to see our ongoing Habitat exhibit where you can discover more about meadows and other habitats in Wisconsin, and how you can best protect them.

Plus, make sure you check out our Schneider Family Grand Garden! It’s a meadow-inspired native Garden that’ll give you plenty of ideas for plants and wildflowers to put in your own outdoor living spaces.

PC: John Oates Photography

Habitat was developed by Smithsonian Gardens and is made available by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

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