Urban meadow brooklyn


Urban Meadow Brooklyn is a project I designed a few years ago with the NYC Parks Department, The former beloved Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Balmori Associates, called Urban Meadow Brooklyn. It is located in downtown Brooklyn and is a permanent park and home to the Red Hook Jazz festival, parties, yoga and theater performances. As a landscape design proposition, American Meadows Northeast mix was a low-maintenance solution for urban public space with the a very low budget. You can read more about the Urban Meadow Brooklyn project here 


The site was a Park's Department owned, 8,000 square foot lot. It used to be the location of a Church called Mother Cabrini church, so the site was called Mother Cabrini Park, and the lot actually has a playground next to it with this name that I used to take my kids. We would look through the fence and wonder why the site was not being used...

I found some historic photographs along the way. This was the Mother Cabrini Church, circa 1930.

You can see the playground beyond the lot. 

It seemed weird to have a giant vacant lot that was owned by the Parks Department and trash-strewn next to a playground. Like of course it should be something...so we proposed an urban meadow that was simple. Rolling grass hills, dogwood trees, and wildflowers.

Many people think meadows are an instant landscape. Much to our disappointment it was not an insta-landscape. 

Meadows require work. They require analysis of the soil (sandy, loamy, clayey)., the drainage (compact vs. airy) on site, and then determining the right seed mix and composition. IT also requires weeding, a lot, over a few seasons. Consider adding grasses to your mix for the best result.  The mix needs to be right for the place, and establish over time. Read this article by the expert Larry Weaner to learn about the best way to create a meadow here

Fortunately, Brooklyn breeds awesome weeders. These were a couple of those types that came with their game faces on.

The American meadows Northeast Mix worked. American Meadows is a site that I use all the time for plants, and they supplied the meadow mix I used. Based in Vermont, they contract with growers in California and Oregon, and they hand -pack their seeds in their warehouse with love. As they have been around for 30+ years, their process for making seed mixtures and propagating plants is tried and true based on decades of research as well as trial and error. They also have excellent customer service, and I find myself using their website as a resource all the time to learn about various mixes and perennials. In addition to a slew of different types of wildflower mixes suited to different areas and conditions, they also provide perennial plants, bulbs, and even the tailored customized mix for your specific project type.  

I don't know if you can see, but there is a hydrant tucked not he left side of the site. That was my water source in the sense that I would hook a fire hose to it a couple times a week in the summer months. But this established in July, with very little rain and no irrigation (except when I stuck the fire hose on it a few times, which was pretty hilarious to watch considering I am actually not a fireman).

The first season it produced a lot of annuals, so Cosmos were on display early in the season and looking lovely...


They also have Coreopsis, Echinacea, Lupine, and Baby Blue Eyes in there, among many many others....