Using multiple classification approach to examine plant traits response to grazing and fencing (as without access to grazing) is rare. Here we used multiple classification approach to examine plant diversity, productivity and species traits response to grazing and fencing over a three-year period on the eastern part of the Qing-Hai Tibetan Plateau. The results showed that most common species response to the fence was poorly noticeable. The fencing meadows compared to those under long-term free grazing are characterized by significantly higher total species richness, but species richness declined with sampling years gradually, regardless of grazing or fencing. The correlation showed that species richness was negatively associated with mean annual temperature significantly, suggesting that abiotic factors (e.g. annual temperature) could also play important roles in driving species richness in this subalpine meadow. Total aboveground biomass was not associated with mean annual temperature and rainfall. The fencing meadow demonstrated higher community aboveground biomass relative to the grazing ones, especially the abundance of legume and graminoids increased, while the proportions of sedge decreased, suggested that grazing disturbance favours the increase of reproductive success of sedge (e.g. Kobresia humilis) in this subalpine meadow. Growth form-based analyses combined with canopy height categories should be recommended to reveal general rules and mechanisms relating to grazing.