Pollinator Meadow

A pollinator meadow near Lexington Center

Lexington Living Landscapes, with a crew of dedicated volunteers, embarked on a project to establish a pollinator meadow of native plants on the Minuteman Bikeway, beginning in summer 2021. The site is located about 1,000 feet east of Woburn Street, adjacent to the Town conservation land known as the Brown Homestead

The initial phase of this project focused on repeated physical removal of invasive knotweed and sowing an annual cover crop of native buckwheat. The second phase of the project focused on planting native plants and establishing a central walking path. Read below for more details about how we are establishing this native plant meadow. 

Most recent update:

Year Three (May – September 2023)

We continue to work to keep the knotweed in check, though its vigor within the meadow is noticeably diminished this year, and remove other invasive species as needed. Our plantings of native species have established well. Enjoy this photo gallery highlighting species that have been flowering at various times through spring and summer: 

Anise hyssop

Butterfly weed

Cutleaf coneflower

Deptford pink

Eastern columbine


Obedient plant

Scarlet beebalm

Going back to the beginning

The site the morning of June 5, just before we began work. Between the grass and the trees is a very vigorous stand of knotweed.

The first months (June/July 2021)

We chose this site for several reasons. Because it is adjacent to the popular bikeway, it gives many people the opportunity to enjoy the meadow and learn from the project. The site is good-sized and has great sun exposure, allowing us to grow a wide variety of native species. Unfortunately, in recent years the site has been overrun by a vigorous stand of invasive knotweed, an aggressive non-native plant that shades out most natives. But to us the chance to eliminate a population of this pesky invasive at the same time as creating the pollinator meadow was appealing.

Removing and controlling the knotweed will be a daunting challenge. Anyone who has fought knotweed in their own backyard knows what a vigorous, tenacious plant it is, growing quickly to 6 feet or more in height. It has underground crowns and rhizomes that can sprout new shoots for years.

Most of our hearty crew later in the day, with the cleared site in the background. 

Because the site is within 100 feet of wetlands, we first applied to the Conservation Commission for permission. With their approval in hand, and with the town’s Conservation Department and DPW providing invaluable guidance and logistical help, on June 5 our crew of volunteers went to work. By the end of the week, we had physically cleared all the above-ground knotweed shoots from the site.

To provide a cover crop for the bare ground, we planted buckwheat seed, a common native summer cover crop that greens up quickly, suppresses weed growth, and is popular with bees. Within a week it had germinated, but the knotweed had already begun to sprout as well. Within two weeks, two-foot-high knotweed sprouts again covered the site.

In July 2021, we began the first of two more cutting and pulling sessions for this summer. The strategy is to weaken the underground crowns and rhizomes by continually draining the energy they invest in above-ground sprouts before the growing stems can transfer their energy back underground. It’s not clear yet whether mechanical control alone will succeed; many experts recommend a foliar herbicide that is absorbed into the roots. We’re reluctant to go down that road and will make a decision next year. 

End of the first year (December 2021)


Much has happened since July. 

With the help of a small cadre of volunteers, we continued to cut knotweed through the summer and early fall. The cover crop of annual buckwheat filled in much of the open ground nicely, and their delicate stems of white flowers were buzzing with pollinators for weeks. We had a visit from knotweed nemesis Mike Bald, of Got Weeds? in Vermont, an expert in controlling knotweed without chemicals. We also consulted with Jean Devine, of Devine Native Plant Gardens, to advise us on managing the transition to a robust native plant meadow.


With help from Jean and our own experts, this winter we’ll be refining our Year 2 strategy so that we’re ready to roll when spring arrives. This coming year we’ll be continuing to cut knotweed on a regular basis to further weaken their underground energy reservoirs. We’ll also start planting some native perennials to begin the transition. Perennial plant species will be chosen for their ability to compete with the knotweed and for their value to native pollinators and other wildlife. 

Buckwheat cover crop in July 2021: a floral resource for pollinators and part of our knotweed suppression plan.

Our meadow-to-be in December 2021: with one season of knotweed cutting complete, we will return in the spring.

Spring of Year Two! (March - June 2022)

We were busy over winter, working with native garden designer Jean Devine of Devine Native Plantings to prepare a planting plan for the meadow, which we took to the Conservation Commission for approval in March.


This spring the knotweed came back, as expected, but we were ready! Thanks to a crew of hard-working volunteers, we’ve had three knotweed pulls through early June. We once again sowed annual buckwheat to provide a cover crop, and added some Partridge Pea seed as well. To begin the transition to native plant meadow, we ordered 88 plants from Bagley Pond Perennials that arrived on June 4; as this update is being written, they are biding their time waiting for planting day (coming shortly). 

Part of the meadow planting plan.

With the coming of summer, we’ll be doing more knotweed pulls to continue to weaken those plants, while also nurturing the native plants to help them become established. Planning a second round of planting for fall is also underway.

Our thanks to our volunteers, to the town’s Conservation and Public Works Departments, to the Jack and Betty Eddison Blossom Fund for financial support, and to everyone who is helping us on this grand adventure!

Healthy plants ready for our first round of planting in June.

The fantastic knotweed pulling crew.

Summer of Year Two (June – September 2022)

We’re making steady progress. With the help of more stalwart volunteers, we planted the 88 plants from Bagley Pond Perennials and plugs of several grass species (Little Bluestem, Purple Lovegrass, and others) from the Native Plant Trust. Keeping them alive through the summer drought has been a challenge, but a tag team of water carriers has resulted in very few losses.


The town’s conservation land summer work crew helped us install a path that now leads through the center of the site, giving visitors access to the emerging meadow. Thank you, Liz and Charlie!

Thank you to the knotweed pulling team, especially in this hot weather!

Liz and Charlie, successful path-builders. Please come take a walk on this new path through the developing meadow.

And on July 30, volunteers with Mystic Charles Pollinator Pathways (a group of native plant enthusiasts in the Mystic and Charles Rivers watersheds) and two energetic LHS students helped knock back the knotweed that grows in the woods at the edge of the meadow.

Between the plant “volunteers” that have appeared in the meadow (particularly fleabanes and horseweeds) and some early bloomers among the plants we installed (notably black-eyed susans), the site is giving a hint of the meadow we hope it will become. Very exciting!