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Wildflower Lawn

We have a small/medium sized back garden which previously had a standard rye lawn growing on it. – shown in picture.


The lawn was patchy and various re-seeding attempts largely failed.  Back in May, I stripped the turf completely and the space is now as you see in the photo.


Very little has grown back other than the odd weed, so I think it’s been cleared pretty effectively.  The area has been stripped for two months now as it has been too hot and dry to re-lay anything and I am waiting until September.


The soil is hard, clay and there are plenty of little stones and gravel, particularly at the edges where hard standing once was.  The central area is better.  I have removed all the largest stones and the topsoil has mostly been raked off.


That suggests to me that the soil isn’t great quality, and as I’ve become more interested in wildlife I’ve begun to think it would be nice to put in a wildflower lawn.


It isn’t a huge area.  The garden faces West but the central ‘square’ area gets sunlight most of the day.  Towards the back (where the hawthorns are) is more shady.


I would welcome your views on whether this is a worthwhile venture or not.  The idea is to have a think mowed path along the bottom and left edges so that I can access the border on the left.  Otherwise, it’s all up for grabs.  We have two seating areas so don’t need the lawn to play on etc, no kids.


I am happy to invest in turf for the extra cost.


Is there anything I need to be concerned with or any further preparation required?  Which mix would be best in an area of this nature?


My other half would prefer a traditional lawn, so I need this to work in a way which convinces her it isn’t an ugly mess, so a mown path and a pretty selection of wildflowers would be preferable!


Any thoughts, tips, warnings very welcome indeed.  If this is unlikely to work, or you don’t think the plot suits the idea, please tell me in no uncertain terms and I will save some cash!


Thanks very much indeed!



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,275
    What about a central-ish circle/oval of 'proper lawn' surrounded by a deep fringe of wildflower meadow?

    Would that keep both of you happy?
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97
    Potentially, although in all honest I think she is happy to leave me to it!  There wouldn't be a huge amount of room for fringes and I'd be concerned that the grass would take over.  My main concern is with whether or not this will work and how best to implement it...
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,875
    were you thinking of a mix like poppies and cornflowers etc or plants that grow in grass?
  • karen paulkaren paul Posts: 230
    Maybe a bit of camomile lawn could be an option? I always think an informal drift of wildflowers looks lovely so perhaps an irregular shaped bed of them? On a recent visit to Chester zoo I took a photo of a beautiful wildflower bed. It was just flowers, no grass. 
  • karen paulkaren paul Posts: 230
    I say wildflowers but actually I don't know what flowers they are, they have that effect though and look beautiful.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,707

    How about a quadrant-shaped lawn curving from the far end of the patio back towards the border on the left?  The geometric shape would give a tidy/formal look, and it would leave you with a nice deep border where you could have lots of wildlife-friendly plants (wildflower mix if you like, or maybe some small shrubs or perennials). 

  • Paul165Paul165 Posts: 97
    I'm intrigued - what kind of shape do you have in mind re the quadrant?  Do you mean leaving the whole area above the patio to borders?  The soil in the top right is particularly poor
  • glasgowdanglasgowdan Posts: 632
    A wildflower lawn isn't going to be a neat-looking option at all, so if that's fairly important I'd give it a miss. It might be better to just go for a wildflower area, with the majority of it being regular lawn. 
  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,313
    Wildflower lawns are difficult unless you have a large area, which you don't seem to have.  I know how hard they are because I have tried.  If I were you, knowing what I know now, I would go for spring bulbs and wildflowers in the lawn.  Forget about summer flowers including poppies. The reason being is that if you have summer wildflowers you can't cut the grass until the end of the summer, or about August.  Presumably as it's a small garden you would want to use the lawn during the summer for...well....lawn stuff.  That's the best way I can put it.  BUT there are lots of nice things you could incorporate into a spring meadow type lawn; bulbs such as daffodils, alliums, anemones, grape hyacinths, bluebells and then  wild violets, primroses and cowslips and loads more.  You would need to leave it unmowed until about June and then mow as normal but what I do with mine is keep the grass on the long side and various low growing wild things will just turn up depending on soil type and  wetness/dryness. Good luck and this type of lawn is MUCH better for the wildlife. I love mine.
    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,296
    I let my lawn grow longer in spring, and as Redwing says, it can be beautiful. In mine there are: daisies, white clover, self-heal, speedwell, celandine, cardamine pratensis and forget-me-not seedlings. I haven't planted any of them, but I do nothing to deter them. This is a rural area though, with much native grassland, so good seed potential; you may need to help things along a bit.
    All the things I have named are fairly low growing and mine tends to get mown towards the end of May/early June, when the flowers start to fade and it suddenly feels tattier. The rest of the year it is just green (even now, as it is quite shady, and damp at the lower edge).
    The curved border idea would look good and give access from both sitting area and patio. You could grow lots of wild flowers in your borders. Have a look at Carol Klein's book "Wildflowers - Nature's own to Garden Grown", for what to plant for a look that retains some of the wild feel with a bit more impact.
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