New meadow soon to sprout on Beltline’s Eastside Trail

In early December, Trees Atlanta staff drove a large tractor up and down the lawn between Ponce City Market and Piedmont Park. Attached to this tractor was a no-till seed drill, which allows for the sowing of native seeds without disrupting soil, according to a Trees Atlanta article by Grace Manning.

“In using this method, we allow the area to maintain its natural soil structure and preserve its ability to retain moisture,” she wrote. “Thanks to Piedmont Park Conservancy for generously donating the use of their tractor and time, we were able to seed 20+ species of native grasses and wildflowers in the now fenced off area. Some of the species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scorparium), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and orange milkweed (Aesclepia tuberosa).”

While the majority of the southeast was historically forested, this was not true for every bit of land. Meadows were woven into the natural landscape in areas where the soil was shallow, where livestock grazed, in areas that experienced frequent fires, or alongside creeks and rivers where the floodplains and beavers provided a wet meadow habitat. Meadows and grasslands now cover roughly 10% of what they once did.

Many of the species seeded within the BeltLine Arboretum are perennials and will grow year after year. In the first year, seedlings will grow slowly, staying small to establish their root systems. During this time, the area will be kept short to prevent weeds from seeding and spreading. In its second year, the meadow will be much taller but still may be establishing itself. In its third year, the meadow will be established and bloom year after year. An easy way to remember this is in the first year the meadow “sleeps,” in its second year it “creeps,” and in its third year it “leaps!”