How to create a wildflower meadow
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Bringing a wildflower meadow to life in your own garden is a lot easier than you might think. Wildflower meadows can make a striking alternative to a traditional flowering garden and will help increase the variety of wildlife in your garden – so why not follow these easy steps to get your garden blooming beautifully?
Step 1: Deciding what type of wildflower meadow to grow
The are two different types of wildflower meadow, and the one you’ll grow really comes down to the sort of soil you intend to plant in.
- Perennial meadows grow best in poorer soil types. If you want to grow perennial meadows in fertile soil, you’ll need to remove the top 15-20cm to reveal the nutrient-poor subsoil into which you can plant your seeds.
- Annual meadows need good quality, nutrient rich soil. They’re perfect if you plan on planting your wildflowers in a part of your garden that you’ve previously grown plants in, such as an existing flower bed or border.
Step 2: Finding the right spot for your wildflowers
Wildflower meadows grow best on open land that gets plenty of sunlight and isn’t shaded by trees, shrubs or walls. You should also try to find somewhere that won’t be disturbed by people and pets as few meadow plants will survive frequent trampling.
If you’re planting a perennial meadow, make sure you find an area in your garden that hasn’t been treated with fertilisers recently as many typical meadow flowers and grasses do best on poor soils with low fertility. Fertile conditions will favour taller, coarser plants that will outcompete your meadow plants. For the same reason, avoid areas that have large numbers of established perennial weeds, such as nettles, docks and thistles.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot for your wildflowers, you’ll need to create a suitable seedbed. To do this, simply break up the soil with a fork then rake the site to produce a reasonably fine, firm layer. Make sure you also remove any larger stones or root fragments you may find.
Step 3: Choosing your plants
There are no firm rules about how many different plants to sow as this will depend largely on your personal choice. However, you should select a mixture of grasses and wildflowers as this blend is a key characteristic of meadows. We have a great selection of wildflower seeds that will allow you to pick and choose the sorts of flowers and variety of colours you really want to see come to life in your garden.
As tempting as it might be to collect your own seeds from grasslands and verges, you should avoid doing this as many species are actually protected by law.
Step 4: Sowing your seeds
You should prepare the ground around a month before you sow your seeds. This will encourage weed seeds in the soil to germinate which will give you time to remove them before you begin planting your wildflower seeds. The best time to sow your seed mix is either early autumn (late August-September) or spring (April-May). To help ensure the seed is evenly distributed, mix the seed with damp sand or sawdust in a ratio of 1-to-3 and scatter it by hand. Afterwards, it’s best to lightly roll the ground, or tread it, to settle the seeds in the soil. You can rake the soil, but this may bury some seed too deep or allow lighter seeds to blow away. If the weather is very dry at sowing time, lightly water the ground with a fine spray.
Step 5: Caring for your wildflower meadow
During the first year, remove any annual and perennial weeds that appear. The year after the first sowing, the young meadow should be mown to a height of around 5cm 4 times throughout the year to encourage the flowers and grasses to grow strong roots. From the second year onwards, spring meadows should be cut in July and through the remaining summer months, while summer meadows won’t need to be cut until late August, after the wildflowers have set seed.
To help your meadow’s insect population, leave part of the meadow margin uncut. Insects will use dried stems and seed heads as shelters during the colder months. This uncut area can be cut when the weather warms up in the spring.
- Leave your wildflower mowings in place after cutting to allow seeds to drop. If you have a perennial meadow, make sure you collect the cut plants a few days later to prevent the soil from becoming too fertile.
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