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Lawn to meadow

I have an area of about 4m x 10m. Mainly rough grasses and weeds, so describing it as a lawn seems a bit much. The area gets plenty of light, plenty of sun. (Near Carlisle, so sun is sometimes in limited supply.) I want to convert it to a wild flower meadow. I have limited time and limited money, so was planning to rotorvate and cover now, then plant locally sourced wild flower seed in Feb. 

Does that make sense? A quick look on the internet came up with no end of other options. The easy ones involved buying meadow turf. The cheap ones involved several seasons and were labour intensive. 

Any tips would be welcome.  

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  • I've bought a load of wildflower seed to do the same thing with a bit of land at the side of my office,  so I will be interested to see what suggestions you get image

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,232

    THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF "MEADOW".

    THERE IS THE REAL ALPINE TYPE MEADOW, THE TYPE THAT COWS WOULD HAVE GRAZED IN THE PAST, WHICH CONSISTS OF PERENNIAL GRASSES AND PERENNIAL WILD FLOWERS. NOT VERY EXCITING BUT AUTHENTIC.

    AND THEN THERE IS THE VERY COLOURFUL "MEADOW", AS SEEN IN EXPENSIVE MAGAZINES, WHICH NO COW WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN ALLOWED ONTO. IT CONSISTS OF BARE EARTH ON WHICH ARE SCATTERED ANNUAL WILD FLOWERS. VERY PRETTY FOR A SHORT TIME AND A MUDDY MESS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.

    SEE HERE.

    http://pictorialmeadows.co.uk/products-services/perennial-seed-mixes/

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,869

    I THINK YOU'VE COVERED IT THERE PANSYFACE.

    THE  SOIL WILL BE FULL OF WEED SEEDS TO COMPETE WITH WHAT YOU SOW. WILD FLOWER MEADOWS AREN'T AN EASY OPTION EVEN WHEN YOU'VE WORKED OUT WHICH TYPE YOU WANT. WITHIN THE PERENNIAL MEADOW THERE IS ALSO A CHOICE. SPRING FLOWERING, YOU MOW FROM MID-SUMMER OR AFTER THE PLANTS SET SEED,  AND LATE FLOWERING, WHERE YOU MOW UNTIL SUMMER. THAT'S SIMPLIFYING IT A BITimage

  • I have done exactly the same thing a few years back, this year dug  the whole meadow up, it was very hard work doing so, with the added problem  of the soil being full of seeds, it has been an ongoing problem all year. The problem is you need the right soil and conditions for a meadow, mine was simply to fertile  and it looked terrible after a few weeks of flowering, especially when the local fox and the badger population decided to flatten the whole area, it looked a right mess. Still gardening is about discovering and this year being my first year at it I am totally hooked and cannot wait to get out there again.  

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Derbyshire but with a Nottinghamshire postcode. Posts: 16,470

    I would strip the top three inches of turf and soil off. Use it as a turf stack, and then use it for potting soil. It is probably too rich for wild flowers. Wild flowers tend to prefer poor soil.

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 10,299

    Totally agree that meadows are not a low maintenance option.

    However, if you do decide to go for it then make sure you have some yellow rattle in the mix - it helps keep the grasses suppressed and is pretty in its own right.  We have been working on ours for a decade now, and its getting there.  Its lovely to walk through it in the summer and hear it buzzing with insects, the butterflies love it (mostly the brown ones).  And for the last couple of years we have had orchids appearing too - 2 at the last count, but I am dreaming of a colony image

  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    Another way to look at it is that your lawn is already growing local wildflowers...only you are calling them weeds.   I'd keep mowing..but less often..stop fertilizing (including leaving grass clippings on) and try some plugs of things you want in bare patches.  Emorsgate has a Flowering lawn mix.   I'm not crazy about the basal rosette dandelion type lawn weeds but many things lots of gardeners try to eradicate, including lesser celadine, daisies, speedwell, clover etc.  are really very pretty. Also very good for pollinators.    For neatness you could mow sections or the edge more regularly and let other parts get longer. 

    This is what I do for my "lawn", including having scattered a Flowering lawn mix.  I remove ugly (to me) weeds by hand occasionally.  When it is mowed it looks neat.  Each year I discover new tiny flowers.   My lawn is always green (except for a few dog patches), bees are happy, I don't have to worry about lawn maintenance, except occasional mowing.  (My husband likes to mow it short but we only do it every few weeks. Another option would be more regular mowings at a higher setting.)

    I'd agree there will be no such thing as a wildflower meadow of any type that will look good in all seasons.  Why not look into "flowering lawns," try to encourage the wildflowers you already have that you like, and add others that you do want.

  • Listen to Gardeners' Question Time at 2 p.m. today.

  • I am converting the paddock at the side of my house into a wildflower meadow. I am now entering year 5 of doing this.  I have decided to do it the long way.  sowing yellow rattle, stripping the nutrients each year and planting established plug plants.  it is taking a while, but each year I see more and more wildflowers coming up.  in the first year I had one orchid.  I now have well over 30 :)

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,869

    did you plant your orchid, lindsey?  Or did it just turn up?

    I always hope an orchid might turn up here one day but it would be a long trip across an agricultural desert. Otherwise my meadow is doing very nicely for its age (about 20 years) But from a base of surprisingly interesting grasses before we came.

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