A prairie style garden provides a striking and naturalistic look to an outdoor space. Whether incorporating the style to the whole garden design or just a smaller section you can bring the joy of the wild meadow in to your garden.
The prairie style is characterised by ornamental grasses and sturdy perennials. Providing your garden has good drainage and can offer an open sunny spot, you can consider this style when landscaping a garden, regardless of the size of the plot. With the right planting conditions maintenance is fairly straightforward, allowing for an easier gardening experience.
Staples of a Prairie Garden
When landscaping a prairie garden, the mix of grasses and perennials combine to produce contrasts in height and form as well as colour.
The coneflower is a favourite for this style of garden, growing up to three feet tall and attracting birds and pollinators in to the garden. There are many varieties to select from and you may opt for the beautiful purple coneflower or the ‘White Swan’ coneflower depending on the colour scheme you prefer.
Veronicastrums are another staple of a prairie garden, tall plants ideal for the back of borders, whose tapering flowers resemble the ornamental grasses around them.
Adding A Splash of Colour
Although colour may not be the driving force when designing this style of garden, it is still key for the aesthetic balance.
Heleniums are late flowering yet bloom for a good period of time, providing showy colours of yellow, orange or red depending on your preferred design choice.
Milkweed is another key species of a prairie or meadow style garden, whose fragrant and colourful flowers will attract pollinators. As with many of the best plants for this type of garden, milkweed are easy to grow and maintain. The striking day-lily Hemerocallis ‘Red Magic’ is another plant which provides stunning colour.
Ornamental grasses add contrast in form and texture to the garden, with the panicum virgatum a good example. Also called switchgrass it can retain its vertical form throughout the growing season and can be ideal as a focal point of a border or around a pond.
Fountain grass is an elegant addition, helping to provide a naturalistic impression. Its late bloom is also a good contrast to late season foliage.
For a good splash of colour Pink Hair grass explodes with late summer magenta blooms, giving way to attractive tan seed plumes through the winter.
The key to prairie style gardening in smaller spaces is to limit the species you plant, but grow large numbers of them instead for impact.
One or two very large plants like the Eryngium Pandanifolium which grow to 2m in height add structure but are also airy, therefore not obstructing garden views or the light reaching other plants.
The Persicaria ‘Firedance’ is another good option as it provides a dense mound of colourful spire-like flowers, good for small spaces but also good for limiting the light which can penetrate through to the ground, reducing the chance of weeds.