Wet Meadows & Wetlands

Sites in this category have soils made up of clay and high organic matter, with high water tables or impervious layers that prevent drainage. They are wet most of the time.

Examples of WET MEADOW sites: Roadside ditches, retention basins that catch run-off water, pond areas or wetland edges.

Examples of WETLAND sites: Newly created wetlands & wetland restoration sites, retention basins with wetland functions, floodplains, pond edges and open water or wet bioremediation sites.

Site Preparation

Eradicate existing vegetation by having a licensed spray technician apply an approved herbicide, such as glyphosate (Rodeo), triclopyr (Garlon® 3A) or other aquatic herbicide formulation, to control undesirable vegetation, such as multiflora rose, honeysuckle and woody species. CAUTION: Some persistent species, such as purple loosestrife, phragmites or reed canarygrass, may need multiple applications of glyphosate or triclopyr. Perennial weeds not addressed before establishment will be more difficult to remove later. The soil is often too wet to till. Newly constructed wetlands, retention basins and wet construction sites should be seeded as soon after construction as possible. Leaving the surface rough by creating mounds and kettles for an undulating microtopography can be very beneficial in obligate wetlands.

Habitat: Wetland sites, by necessity, must have wet or saturated soil to standing water, a high water table and vary from partial shade to full sun; often occupied by OBL, FACW and FAC species.

Fertility: Due to the potential for water contamination, the use of lime or fertilizer in wetlands is not recommended. We do recommend the addition of organic materials when topsoil has been depleted or removed. Check your soil pH and select species adapted to that pH. For more information, see FAQs.

Seeding Method: Hand seed, broadcast, hydroseed or drill seed when the water table is drawn down. It is not practical to seed any wetland when the water is more than 2” deep or where severe flooding is likely to occur before germination. The same caution applies to mulching. Often, natural seed banks (seeds in wetland soil) will establish part of the vegetative cover.

First Growing Season Maintenance

When feasible (ground isn’t too slippery or mucky to safely walk), post-planting maintenance will provide the best results for wet meadows and wetlands. Whenever canopy (overall vegetation) reaches a height of 18”-24”, use a string trimmer to trim the meadow to a height of 8”. This will reduce competition by fast-growing weeds for sunlight, water and nutrients needed by slower growing, perennial natives. Mowing should cease by mid-September.

Problem weeds should be spot sprayed with an approved herbicide (such as Rodeo® or Garlon®3A), a similar aquatic herbicide formulation or hand pulled.

Second & Subsequent Growing Season Maintenance

Problem weeds, such as phragmites, reed canarygrass and purple loosestrife, should be spot sprayed with an approved herbicide (such as Rodeo® or Garlon® 3A), a similar aquatic herbicide formulation or hand pulled.

For more establishment information, see Life of a Meadow.

To view available seeds and mixes for this site type, see Species/Mix Search