Mariton: Meadow Mowing

March 10, 2012

By Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager


March is meadow mowing month at Mariton.  By waiting until the end of winter the standing vegetation provides food and shelter for birds, voles, and even insects.  If we didn’t mow, the meadows would revert to forest.  That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but it is good to have different habitats at Mariton.  The meadows attract birds that we wouldn’t see if the entire Sanctuary was forested.  The butterflies particularly like the meadows that I mow in March.  These meadows host Milkweed, Dogbane and lots of other butterfly food plants.


Many of the Natural Lands Trust preserves have wet fields.  Preserve Managers have to mow when the ground is frozen or very dry.  I have more flexibility with the timing, because Mariton’s meadows are well drained and situated on top of Bougher Hill.   My philosophy is to mow late in March so that there is standing vegetation in case of a freak snow storm.  Yet, I want to mow the field before green up, so that sun can heat the soil and speed the transition from mowed field to good wildlife habitat.  This year, I decided to mow a little earlier than normal.  I anticipate an early green up.