Kansas State University


The Meadow

Category: Meadow Installation

Meadow Seeded

Karen spreading prairie straw over already seeded areas. Image by Richard Dean Prudenti.

Last Friday and Saturday, dedicated and generous volunteers enjoyed a morning learning to mix and hand broadcast seed. The weather was hot, but the company was stellar!

Volunteers begin to broadcast seed. Image by Lee R. Skabelund.

Thank you to all our volunteers and participating project team members:

Diane Barker
Troy Britt
Dede Brokesh
Michaeline Chance-Reay
Sandra Contreras
Linda Duke
Jordan Faucett
Pam Foster
Rachel Fox
Joe Gelroth
Hayden Gwinner
Betsy Haddox
Jonathan Haney
Cornelius A. Hugo
Karen Hummel
Sue Hunt
Katie Kingery-Page
Richard Dean Prudenti
Kathrine Schlageck
Lee Skabelund
Lindsay Smith
Chelcie Sutherland
Gabriela Weber

Friday volunteers (two people not pictured). Image by Kathrine Schlageck.
Saturday volunteers (a few camera shy individuals not shown). Image by Katie Kingery-Page.
Katie raking the very last area of the day. Image by Richard Dean Prudenti.
Cornelius opens a fresh bucket of seed mix. Image by Richard Dean Prudenti.

We accomplished seeding the vast majority of the site with 20 different plant species. These species were divided into a sun mix and a shade mix, combined with sawdust to bulk up the mix for proper distribution, and broadcast by hand. The planning team selected a June planting because this timing tends to favor growth of warm season grasses over cool season weeds. The site will now be watered periodically throughout the growing season.

Sunday morning, just hours after seeding, we received plenty of water from a rain and hail storm. A few small areas of seed were washed out by the rain, but most survived. We expect to see the first seedlings in about a month.

Sandra seeding. Image by Lee R. Skabelund.

Now we need to come up with a name for the Meadow’s volunteer cadre, because it’s clear that involvement with the Meadow may be habit-forming. The Prairie Hearts? Meadow Tenders? …something better? Please post a comment with your suggestions.

Volunteers Needed to Seed the Meadow

Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccafolium) is one of numerous plant species native to the Kansas Flint Hills. This will be among 50 plant species to be seeded or planted in The Meadow of Kansas State University. Image by Richard Dean Prudenti.

Please help make our garden grow — The Meadow, that is, just north of the Beach Museum of Art at K-State.

If you’re a person who enjoys sowing some tender loving care, we can put your volunteer hands to work Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, from 8 a.m.-noon. Together we will plant more than 20 species of native Kansas grasses and wildflowers. More species will be added in the second and third years, for a total of approximately 50 native species of grasses and wildflowers.

We need your help with the following tasks:

  • Mix seed and filling buckets
  • Rake soil to prepare for the seed
  • Broadcast seed
  • Rake to lightly cover seed

Weather permitting we will meet at 8 a.m. under the archway of the Beach Museum of Art. There you’ll receive instructions from Katie Kingery-Page of the Department of Landscape Architecture / Regional & Community Planning, and Kathrine Schlageck of the Beach Museum of Art. If it’s hot, no worries; Kathrine is organizing water refreshments in the shade that morning.

Don’t forget:

  • Sunscreen, hat or other clothes that protect from sun
  • Protective eyewear
  • Garden gloves
  • Hard rake (if you have one)
  • Sturdy shoes that completely cover your feet

Please email beachart@k-state.edu with the days and time you would like to volunteer. We encourage you to stay an hour, two hours or the full time. We plan to complete all activities each day by noon, possibly sooner. Planting is dependent on weather and soil conditions.

We hope you will join us in this unique opportunity to convert a conventional lawn into a meadow that features various plant species native to this part of Kansas.

Before we can seed The Meadow….

North end of the site showing erosion control measures installed after large areas of sod stripped (prior to detail work with a small sod cutter). Image by Dede Brokesh.

There are many ways to prepare a site for seeding with native plants. Catherine Zimmerman, in her book Urban and Suburban Meadows: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces, outlines many approaches and practices that can be used. Choosing a method (or methods) of site preparation depends upon the context of the site, budget of the project, value stance on chemical herbicide use, and intended aesthetic outcome.

For The Meadow at Kansas State University, the planning team decided it was essential to kill off or remove existing cool season turf grass and weeds prior to seeding with native species. The site is a high profile location at a gateway between campus and community (just through the Beach Museum arch). While some weediness in the first few years is to be expected and will be controlled as possible through mowings and hand weeding, starting with a strong stand of native growth in the first year is the goal.

The planning team is aware of recent research on glycosophate herbicides (known by several trade names). Notably, these herbicides may be more environmentally persistent and more damaging to long term soil health than was previously thought. The planning team devoted considerable time to researching alternate methods of turf and weed removal. Kirby Barrett (Master of Landscape Architecture graduate 2011), Dr. Rhonda Janke (Horticulture, Forestry and Recreational Resources), Katie Kingery-Page and Lee Skabelund (Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning), and Zakary Ratajczak (PhD student, Division of Biology) helped develop the site preparation strategy.

The result is a mixed methods approach that uses the resources available at K-State and minimizes the need for herbicides. Throughout the planning and site preparation, K-State Grounds Maintenance has been an essential partner. Jackie Toburen, Assistant Director, Facilities Services in charge of Grounds, and Joe Myers, Physical Plant Supervisor, reviewed plans for the Meadow as members of the K-State Landscape Advisory Committee. Jackie and Joe continue their work by organizing work crews to help with site preparation.

Grounds crew members, Jim Hartford and John Harper removed two unhealthy hackberry trees and trimmed dead tree limbs to make way for the new limestone path at the meadow. Jim and John also removed existing sod, hauled excess soil, and salvaged tree trunks for repurposing. Delmar Westover and Matthew Heatherly removed sod and excess soil from the site. Joe Myers, in addition to being the “how-to” orchestrator of the strategy, spot sprayed for weeds in small areas inaccessible to larger equipment.

K-State Grounds crews and equipment provide a welcome donation to the construction of the Beach Meadow, a project sponsored by the Hummel family in memory of Professor William C. Hummel and Sara T. Hummel.

Look for future posts on the planting design and maintenance plan for The Meadow!

ReUse of Hackberry Wood

Hackberry logs felled by KSU Grounds Maintenance (special thanks to Joe Myers) will become custom seating for the first two years of The Meadow. Image by Dede Brokesh.


Site preparation for The Meadow included the removal of two over-mature hackberry trees. The trees, which had been badly damaged by successive storms, were removed by KSU Grounds Maintenance. While we are glad to have potential hazard trees removed, conscientious re-use of the hackberry wood is a priority. The hackberry limbs will be repurposed for the growing of shiitake mushrooms, sections of the trunks will be used as teaching tools, large segments of trunk will be used to create seating on site, and the sawdust from stump grinding will be used as a bulking medium for The Meadow seed mixes.

Hackberry trees, which are native to Kansas, are most often found growing along streams and rivers. According to Kansas City-area naturalist Catherine Bylinowski, hackberry wood is popularly known as “biscuit wood,” owing to early settlers recognition of its value for even-burning, cooking fires.

Most of the hackberry wood has been moved to the KSU Willow Lake Student Farm, for shiitake mushroom inoculation under the guidance of Dr. Rhonda Janke. Architecture students, Jake Hofeling and Landon Hubbard will use the APDesign shops to craft temporary seating from the largest hackberry logs. Look for these custom-designed additions to The Meadow soon!

All other trees on The Meadow site, which is a remnant of a larger, historic arboretum on the campus, will be maintained. These trees provide valuable shade for visitors to The Meadow and pedestrians using adjacent paths. The mosaic of shade to sun conditions created by the remaining trees allow The Meadow to feature a diverse mix of full sun to shade tolerant prairie plants.

Boy Scouts Create Erosion Control Measure

Following removal of existing turf grass and successive measures to kill remaining turf and weeds, protection against soil erosion was needed at The Meadow site. Boy Scouts from Manhattan, Kansas area Troops 74 and 75 collected old T-Shirts which were then sewn into recycled erosion socks by Troop 75 and stuffed with mulch by Troop 74.  Both Troops gathered to install the socks.  The project has allowed the boys to learn more about soil conservation, gain service hours, and complete activities for Soil Conservation, Plant Sciences, and Camping Merit Badges.

Many thanks to scout parents Kathrine Walker Schlageck (senior educator at the Beach Museum), Kimberly Kramer (of Architectural Engineering and Construction Science) and David Kramer!