Fancy something more floral – Wildflower meadows

Times are changing and although we still love a lush green lawn, we are starting to reduce the amount of chemical application to our gardens. There is a common trend to encourage wildlife into the garden particularly bees and other pollinators and what better way to do this than have a wildflower meadow.

A few points to bear in mind before getting started with your wildflower meadow.

  • Most UK wildflower meadows exist on nutrient poor sites, so if you’re looking to introduce a new colourful meadow onto your previously manicured lawns you may have to reduce the nutrient levels in order to do this. Nitrogen, phosphate and potassium levels are usually high when dealing with an ornamental lawn, however on rich fertile soils, wildflowers are rapidly smothered by stronger, faster growing grasses and other perennials.
  • Baring the last point in mind we have often found when managing wildflower meadows at Your Garden Needs, that over time 1 or 2 stronger plant species tend to take over. It is a good idea to implicate an annual management scheme to your meadow. Removing unwanted plants such as brambles and thistles. Introducing new varieties of plants like yellow rattle to combat unwanted grasses and adding seed or plug plants in the autumn to increase numbers of existing plants.
  • The way you manage your wildflower meadow is also very important. As stated above, these meadows thrive on low nutrient soils. With that in mind when should you cut your meadow and how should you do it.

Below we talk about our experience in managing wildflower meadows annually.

We have been fortunate to manage a beautiful wildflower meadow which is situated around a small orchard and vegetable garden, this plant diversity attracts insects and other invertebrates including, butterflies, bees, spiders and millipedes, perfect for building a natural ecosystem thus reducing the amount of biological and chemical insecticides used in the garden.

In Autumn after a great display of different inflorescences, we until the all the flowers have set their seed before cutting down to ground level. It is important not to strim or cut the plants up too much as this increases the speed of its breakdown process and if you remember we don’t want to add nutrients into the soil. By using a power scythe or even a pair of garden shears on a small patch you can ensure you’re just cutting the stems at the base and nothing else.

It is then important to leave the cut plants in situ for a week or so to allow any further seeds to drop to the ground before raking and removing all the old plant growth before weeding out any unwanted plants. This is now the perfect time to add new or existing plant species into the meadow as the ground is bare and more sunlight is available.

By adding plug plants, you can pretty much ensure new plant development, but this comes at a cost over wildflower seed.

In this wildflower meadow the beautiful early summer Red Campion has slowly been overrun by a more vigorous wild Yarrow which if left unchecked would soon be completely smothered. Also, after our autumn cut back and a bit of regrowth, we noticed a lot of grass colonising bare patches. After weeding as much as possible we introduced 500 Red Campion plug plants and 100 or so Yellow rattle plants which act as a semi parasitic plant to grass reducing their numbers up to 50%.

It is important to manage your wildflower meadow if you want it to achieve great results year after year. Understand your soil and how the area grows for a year and act before it becomes too late.

Get in touch to discuss Your Garden Needs

Call us on 07876 353409 or send us an email.

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