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What type of grass to leave to grow long?

i have large areas of garden that I am clearing of brambles and then want to leave as long grass with paths mown through to get access to end of the garden (about area of approx half an acre eventually but am clearing bit by bit). Probably a stupid question but can I just sew the normal grass seed you would use for a lawn or should I use something else? Was thinking of throwing a bit of poppy seed or similar in the mix. My original thought had been to use more of a wild flower meadow type mix but the reviews for those don’t seem that positive and they seem quite expensive. Any advice appreciated, thanks


  • Often wildflower meadows suffer because of grass, needing to be cleared every year because the grass suffocates it.  We have some vetch that appears each year at the bottom of our garden which is really nice (I've no idea if it was planted by some previous owner or whether it just appeared).

    Do you have grass anywhere else in your garden that is the kind you're hoping for?  You could cut a few pieces out and let it spread.  
    Or, if you are clearing the area completely why not plant wildflowers and see what happens, something may thrive that you really like. 
  • Poppies are flowers of cultivated soil like cornfields ... they wont establish in grassland. 

    There are specialist suppliers ... it might be an idea to contact your local Wildlife Trust for a recommendation for something suitable for your local conditions. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,032
    Hi Emily-  yes, Bob's right in saying that wildflowers need 'managed' as grass chokes them out. The ground has to be quite poor generally, and you need to cut the whole thing down at the end of the season once everything's flowered/seeded. It really depends on how much time you have to prep the site and then maintain it. The wildflower mixes need a good bit of yellow rattle in them which helps to suppress any grass, but it can take a while to get it all established too.

    You might find it easier and cheaper to simply sow a box of standard grass seed in the area once you've cleared it. You can then have your mown paths through it. 
    Perhaps you could find a middle ground of some kind, with a strip of prepared ground in which you could sow some annuals which will attract lots of bees etc. It could run across the front of the grassed area, so that you can see that from the main garden, and give the effect of a meadow beyond.  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks. The previous owners were very keen gardeners and the 3 acre garden was extensively landscaped. The areas I am tackling were essentially a series of huge flower beds that have just become so overgrown with brambles that almost everything aside from the odd shrub/bulb poking through has died. There is way too much for me to manage to replant/maintain so I thought if I could just change them back to grassy areas that would be easier but already have enough lawn so looking to leave these areas a bit wilder but occasionally mowable so the brambles are kept at bay. I do like the idea of wild flowers - will do a bit more reasearch. It seems very fertile clay but prone to being a bit wet in areas so guess will have to take that into account...
  • What you need is a perennial meadow. I have a couple of such areas and they give me a lot of pleasure and reduce grass cutting.
    One is reasonably dry and has  a lot of daffodils in spring, followed by Geranium pratensis, that I planted, and other plants that have just moved in: cowparsley, hogweed, woundwort, buttercups. If you have other grassland around you will find the same thing
    The bank at the lower end has betony and agrimony, grown from seed, and knapweed that was already there. I plan to gradually move some of these into the main meadow area.
     The other part is wetter and has camassias, a martagon lily, Bistort, cardamine pratensis and lots of creeping buttercups. I have added some fritillaria meleagris this last autumn but don't know yet if they have taken.
    Both areas get cut to the ground in autumn and all raked off and removed, so that they regrow and look good for spring. I monitor the growth of some plants : hogweed is quite handsome but can get a bit too big and look thuggish, nettles, thistles and rushes. The grass Deschampsia caespitosa grows wild here and is very pretty, but is tussock forming, so I keep it to certain bits where it won't make a nuisance of itself.  The same goes for rosebay willowherb.
  • I'd be inclined to leave it for a year and see what comes up. We have/had similar to you - I'm still clearing brambles, but we left the grass as is and all sorts of interesting things popped up, most of which I can't put a name to. There were even orchids that came up where I'd cleared brambles. A few "dead" shrubs came back to life too once I'd freed them from brambles.

    Annoyingly one lawn was covered with cuckoo flower(Cardamine pratensis) the first year, which was great, and the orange tips loved it - the next year (2018) NADA :( Not sure what we did wrong there.
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