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Establishing a wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadows are an attractive alternative to lawns and borders that can last for months. Choose from annual meadows that only bloom once a year or perennial meadows that bloom year after year.

Which wildflower meadow should I choose? 

  • Perennial meadows grow best on weak soils as the grasses compete less with the wildflowers. We recommend removing the top layer of soil and seeding directly into excavated or rotovated sub-soil if you have rich soil. 
  • Annual meadows typically require rich soils. These are a great option if you are converting an existing border. 

When and where should wildflower meadows be sown? 

Depending on soil conditions, sow in March and April or September. Autumn-sown seeds germinate and establish quickly on lighter soils, however, some may not emerge until the following spring. On heavy soils, it’s best to wait until March or April, as waterlogging can cause seed and seedlings to rot in the winter.

Preparing the ground

  • Remove weeds by hand or cover with black plastic or a weed-suppressing membrane for at least three months before sowing in small areas. 
  • Dig up and remove the roots of aggressive perennial weeds like nettles, docks, and dandelions. You may need a landscaping contractor with the necessary equipment for larger areas. 
  • It may be beneficial to remove the topsoil on particularly fertile soils, but this will require machinery. 
  • Dig or rotovate the soil once it is free of plants, then firm and rake it to create a seedbed for new grass. 
  • Don’t use manure or fertiliser – high fertility causes grasses to grow too quickly, crowding out the wildflowers. 
  • Allow the soil to settle and any weed seeds to grow for four to six weeks. Before sowing, hoe them off. 

Sowing ​

  • Even large areas can be easily planted by hand. 
  • Different mixes will have different rates. As these minuscule amounts can be difficult to distribute uniformly, mix the seed with silver sand to make it easier to work with. 
  • Sow half lengthwise and the remaining half widthways to distribute the seed evenly. 
  • Rake or roll in lightly to ensure excellent seed-to-soil contact, then water thoroughly and let them develop organically. However, if birds become an issue, be prepared to cover the seed with netting. 

Aftercare 

Water smaller areas until germination occurs during dry times, but bigger areas must be left until it rains. During the first season, we recommend hand-weeding out any visible weeds that weren’t included in the seed mix. 

Converting your lawn to a wildflower meadow

Lawns can be transformed into wildflower meadows, but achieving the balance between grass and wildflowers can take several years.

  • Stop fertilising and using weed-killer on your lawn. 
  • Continue mowing weekly in the first year to weaken the grass. 
  • Some wild species will be able to establish themselves and flourish. 
  • Raise others from seed and put them into holes in the lawn as one- to two-year-old pot-grown plants. 
  • Many suppliers sell plug plants that can be planted directly into an existing lawn. Plant in small groupings of the same plant for a natural look. 

Wildflower turf

Wildflower turf is becoming more widely available, and it comes in the same short rolls as traditional grass turf. It is a good alternative to spreading seeds on weed-infested terrain or when you require quick establishment. As a more costly option, it is typically only viable for small-scale wildflower initiatives. The wildflower mix options will also be limited. 

Prepare the ground as you would for grass turf, but without the fertiliser. Although wildflower grass can be laid at any time of year, the ideal period is still during springtime. During the first summer, keep the plants well-watered.

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