Grassland Habitat Maker

Very affordable mix of warm and cold season grasses provides habitat and nesting grounds for birds.

SunPart Shade

Photo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Peter Gorman










Sun, Part Shade

The Grassland Habitat Maker is a native meadow designed to provide habitat for birds including pheasants, bobolinks and lark sparrow. With a warm palette of late summer and fall bloom colors, the Grassland Habitat Maker offers Detroiters one way to create a habitat for migratory and local bird populations that are currently in decline. The full site planting with an optional mowing strip fits nicely on a single lot but accomplishes even more for the birds with two three touching lots.

Ideal Location: Single, double or multiple lots in full sun or part sun.


The Grassland Habitat Maker is a very low cost lot design. The majority of the cost of installing this design is from the seeds for plants, and possibly renting or purchasing equipment to prepare your lot. It is possible to install the lot design through the use of volunteer labor and without access to a car. The cost assumes that residents or volunteers have access to basic safety gear and garden tools.

Green Infrastructure

The native perennials and grasses in this lot design have deep roots that help capture, hold and absorb stormwater. The mix of warm and cold season grasses provides habitat and nesting ground for birds.

Vegetation and Visibility

The optional clean, mowed border of this meadow is set back ten feet from the sidewalk. The plant mix grows to a maximum height of three feet. This partially limits views from the street through to the alley; however, you will be able to mostly see through the plants.


Installing the Grassland Habitat Maker will make for a fun and rewarding weekend with your friends, family or neighbors. The construction process should not require professional assistance if you, with the help and support of others, would like to build this design. Please refer to the Step-By-Step section for guidance. The installation process does not require any special, mechanized equipment. The most strenuous physical tasks are potentially removing any existing vegetation from your lot, and scarifying, or raking the surface of the meadow planting area. Machines like a power rake might help, but for a single lot, you should be okay with rakes, some good music and some refreshments. If you select to use a power rake, we recommend borrowing or renting multiple rakes, as this will ease and accelerate your installation process. There are many surprises just beneath the surface of structure-free land in Detroit, including extremely clay soils, and often rubble and other debris. Always hire a professional if you are not up for the challenge, but remember, this will increase your costs. The Grassland Habitat Maker is at its best on multiple lots—all the more reason to include your friends and neighbors in this project. Your group may also decide to build the Grassland Habitat Maker over a series of weekends, completing one lot at a time through a phased or incremental approach.

Build Time Estimate

Six hands or less! With the help of friends, family or neighbors, this project could be completed in a weekend. The Field Guide assumes the lot is ‘construction ready,’ and all equipment and materials required for the lot design have been acquired and are ready to use.

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements

Other Build Considerations


A meadow requires care and maintenance to thrive. The Grassland Habitat Maker requires weeding, watering and mowing, particularly during the first two growing seasons while the meadow establishes itself. In the first year, cut your meadow back to four to six inches whenever it reaches above 10 inches in height. After the first year, continue weeding, and mowing your meadow in late fall or early spring to keep it at its best. It will take about three years for the meadow to fully establish. Meadows are a work in progress. If you feel your meadow needs more color, it is okay to add additional native seed mixes and plants. Be creative and make it your own!

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: Medium
  • Summer: Medium
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Low

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools