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When I think of the word “meadow,” I imagine a glorious landscape filled with grasses and wildflowers swaying in the breeze. While beautiful, these meadows also seem completely out of reach for most home gardeners. But in this episode, meadow expert Graham Laird Gardner, author of ‘Tiny and Wild: Build a Small Scale Meadow Anywhere,’ is here to show us that we can recreate tiny meadows, even on the smallest scale.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [03:40] How Graham became the “meadow man”
  • [06:27] Living off-grid in Puerto Rico
  • [07:54] Why did he write a book about meadows?
  • [11:34] We are nature!
  • [13:22] What makes a meadow a “meadow”? (and why it’s better than cut flower garden)
  • [15:31] Treat yourself to a comforting, soothing moment with Wind River Chimes
  • [17:01] Learn self-sufficiency and homesteading with Kevin Espiritu's book: Epic Homesteading
  • [18:27] What are the benefits of adding a meadow to your yard or local community garden?
  • [21:10] What makes a native plant native, and how much of your meadow should be native plants?
  • [24:11] Are all native plants perennials?
  • [26:10] Are shrubs and trees what distinguish a meadow from a forest?
  • [26:27] How little of a lawn could be converted without significantly affecting the overall effect?
  • [27:52] What are the components of a meadow?
  • [31:30] Consider seasons and species when planning your planting
  • [32:26] Understanding meadow maintenance
  • [35:04] What are the basic design elements that you need to think about in a meadow?
  • [35:23] Site Selection
  • [36:17] Layering and plant selection
  • [38:40] Is there an ideal sun exposure for a meadow?
  • [39:56] How do you balance the wild and the chaotic when designing a native plant meadow?
  • [43:18] Seeds vs plants
  • [48:08] Why should you have a meadow?
  • [50:04] Where can you find Graham on social media?


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Who is Graham the “Meadow Man”?

As his last name implies, he comes from a long line of passionate gardeners. Over the years, Graham developed an appreciation and deep knowledge of native plants. He has designed gardens focused on native species in various parts of the U.S.

Most recently, Graham relocated to Puerto Rico. There, he is continuing to learn about that region's native plants while living an off-grid, environmentally sustainable lifestyle on local farms. Graham has devoted his life's work to native plant conservation and education through beautiful garden design.


What is a Meadow?

A meadow is an area filled with grasses, wildflowers, and other flowering plants that grow together to form a habitat. Meadows support a wide diversity of insect and animal life by providing food, shelter, and places to raise their offspring. They are an attractive, low-maintenance alternative to lawns.


Why Add a Tiny Meadow to Your Yard?

There are so many benefits to converting parts of your yard to mini meadow gardens:

  • Support Local Ecology: Native meadow plants attract specialized local pollinators. These insects feed birds and wildlife up the food chain.
  • Reduce Pollution: Meadows require almost no mowing or maintenance compared to grass lawns. Less gas for lawnmowers means less pollution!
  • Enjoy Nearby Nature: A meadow beside your home lets you observe wildlife up close and reconnect with nature daily. It’s a gorgeous invitation for local creatures like birds, bees, and butterflies!


Tiny Meadow Gardening Basics

When designing your own tiny meadow, there are a few key things to consider:

Site Conditions

Walk your outdoor space and observe sunlight, drainage, and other environmental factors to choose appropriate native plants. Identify areas you pass by and view often where you’d like to see and interact with wildlife. Meadows also work well for tricky spots like dry/sloped locations or poor-performing lawns.


Evaluate Light, Soil, Drainage

Test your site’s sun exposure, nutrients, and how quickly water drains to match appropriate native plants to conditions.



Focus on grasses and grass-like sedges or rushes to provide structure and texture. Then, interplant short-lived flowering perennials, self-seeding annuals, and spring bulbs. Aim for at least 70% native species, but Graham suggests adjusting ratios based on your unique vision.



Mimic natural layers: Tall plants, mid-height fillers, and low-growing groundcovers. Site taller plants sporadically instead of only along the back. Group shorter species together so they have visual impact. 

Here are Graham’s recommendations:

  • Tall plants: 25% tall emergent plants over 30 inches scattered throughout
  • Mid-height plants: 50% mid-height plants 12-30 inches tall planted in groups
  • Groundcovers: 25% groundcovers under 12 inches planted in masses



If you have just a tiny space to spare, Graham suggests starting around a mailbox or other small spot that’s tedious to mow and maintain. Buy from reputable native plant nurseries; don't use generic wildflower seed mixes. Combine potted plants and plugs with seed scattering to balance cost.



Repeat plant groupings and use other basic design principles to keep your meadow looking intentionally lush instead of wildly chaotic. The goal is to bring out the beauty in nature rather than its disorderliness.

Be patient as your meadow establishes and learn to identify potentially invasive weeds. But refrain from constantly fussing over every single new volunteer plant. Annual fall or very early spring cutbacks help with aesthetics and soil health.


Beauty and Impact of a Tiny Meadow

Above all else, Graham emphasized that watching wildlife flock to the tiny meadow you've created is extremely rewarding. A meadow garden, no matter how small, can have a measurable positive impact by increasing the biodiversity in your little area. By making different choices in our own backyards, we collectively have enormous power to help vital pollinator species thrive.

I was left feeling wildly inspired to create miniature meadow patches wherever I can in the future. I hope Graham's tips inspire you too!



Mentioned in our conversation:



Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Wind River Chimes

This new year, bring more peace, serenity, and magic into your home with chimes. Wind River is a Virginia-based company creating premium handcrafted and hand-tuned wind chimes for over 35 years. If you are looking for a new way to grow joy in your life and find a moment of peace, a Wind River chime is the perfect addition to your home or garden. Plus, it's a perfect personalized gift for your loved ones!

Visit and use code GROWINGJOY to receive free engraving on all Corinthian Bells wind chimes.

Quarto: Epic Homesteading by Kevin Espiritu

Take the first step towards self-sufficiency with Epic Homesteading, an accessible, beginner-friendly guide to starting a modern, high-tech homestead with advice on growing and preserving food, raising chickens and bees, utilizing solar power, harvesting rainwater, and so much more. Follow large and small step-by-step DIY projects to power up your homestead quickly, as well as advice on more complex subjects, such as investigating local zoning regulations and permitting requirements, staying organized, understanding your limitations, and designing your homestead for efficiency and beauty.

Grab Epic Homesteading at your favorite local bookstore,,, Barnes & Noble, or



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