Grow a meadow
Native flowers and grasses are a really valuable resource for wildlife, especially insects. But sadly since the 1950s we have lost about 97% of the meadows that used to grace our countryside.
Autumn is a really good time of year to think about establishing a flower meadow in your garden and if you can spare a small area of your lawn the insects would really appreciate it.
You have the option of simply not cutting the grass in an area which will be hugely beneficial in itself, but you could also make this area look prettier and more attractive to pollinating insects as well in just a few simple steps.
Step 1 – Source some seed.
Perennial wildflower seed is easy and cheap to buy, and you’ll only need a couple of grams of seed per square metre. It is important to make sure that your native seed is in fact native. Flora Local have a great list of trusted seed suppliers on their website. It’s a good idea to buy a nice mixture of several species of purely flower seed, and the ones best suited to your soil type should germinate. It’s worth making sure that your mixture contains Yellow Rattle as it is reduces the vigour of the grasses in your lawn and encourages more flowers to establish.
Step 2 – Get Scarifying
Select the area of lawn you want to turn into a meadow and grab a lawnmower and a rake (It’s best if you do this in Autumn). Mow the grass on the lowest possible setting and remove all the cuttings. Now with your rake scarify the area, trying to remove as much extra grass and create as much bare soil as is possible. If you’re doing this over a large area it is probably worth hiring a proper scarifier from your local tool hire shop. It can look fairly horrendous after scarifying but don’t worry, it’ll grow back!
Step 3 – Sowing the seed
When you’ve removed as much of your grass as you can it’s time to sow your seed. Some seed, most notably the Yellow Rattle needs a period of cooling before it will germinate so it is essential that it is sown in the autumn. Generally speaking, Autumn is best for sowing seed like this as the grass is growing slower and it gives the flower seeds a better chance to establish.
Step 4 – Management
Keep the grass in your area mown to about an inch and a half in height until the flower plants start to establish in April or May. After this, it is okay to let the grass grow longer and hopefully the flowers will be able to complete. From then on your meadow will only need cutting after it has flowered once each year, in about September.