Meadow Management

​​​​Meadow management is a way to protect our waterways, while establishing more efficient maintenance and management practices.

Meadow management limits woody vegetation growth while allowing grassy, native vegetation to become established. Meadows provide many benefits, including:

  • Filter sediment, excess nutrients and other pollutants before they enter our waterways;
  • Protect sensitive wildlife and plant species;
  • Reduce shoreline erosion;
  • Reduce labor and fuel costs; and
  • Reduce potential for injuries or equipment damage.


Where can meadows be established?

  • As buffers along natural shorelines and streams, but only to the top of bank
  • As buffers for man-made ponds and canals, but only to the top of bank
  • Areas required to be vegetated by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Ordinance
  • Areas required to be vegetated by the Southern Watersheds Management Ordinance
  • Other areas may be suitable for meadow management. Please refer to the Virginia Beach City Code  Sections 23-50.

How are meadows created and maintained?

  • Identify the area to become a meadow. To gain environmental benefits, a minimum  20-foot wide meadow buffer is recommended; however, the buffer cannot extend beyond the top of bank unless exempted under City Code.
  • Establish a new mowing cycle. This is determined by the meadow location and the amount of woody vegetation. Meadows shall be mowed no lower than 6 inches, and the ideal times to mow are in February and  March to minimize disturbance to ground nesting birds and other species' reproduction habits.
  • Selectively remove woody shrubs and trees, and control invasive species using approved practices. Trees and other woody vegetation may remain in some concentrated areas, but it is best to keep them above the top of the bank in shoreline buffers.
  • Meadows may be enhanced by seeding wildflowers or planting other perennials that tolerate winter mowing.
  • Meadows will begin to appear in a month or two, with native wildflowers blooming in a year or more.

 ​Native Plants for Meadows

Please visit pages 68-69 of the Nativ​e Plants for Wil​dlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping​ to obtain a list of recommended plants for dry or wet meadows.