Planning a wildflower lawn/mini meadow - advice appreciated.

Hello all,

I am planning on growing a mini meadow in part of my garden - I have done some research but would  appreciate your thoughts and advice before I go ahead. 

I moved into my house last July and the previous owner had done a fantastic job on the back garden however there is some empty space at the back which I feel is a bit of a blank canvas. Equally, I'm keen to do my part for British wildlife and pollinators. I have included some photos to show what I mean.

This is the area which is approx. 3m x 8m:


My options as I understand them are to buy wildflower turf or to sow directly myself. Based on cost it seems like sowing is going to be a better option for me. 

My understanding of the process:
  • Remove the lawn
  • Remove weeds, stones etc to provide as good a surface as possible.
  • Rake
  • Sow a wildflower mix with sand directly onto the exposed earth
  • Water 
  • Weed 
  • Scythe in the autumn 
Questions:

  • Is my understanding of the basic process correct?
  • What is my sowing window or have I missed it already? 
  • I have read that the soil quality should determine what type of mix I sow - is this correct and what is the easiest way to find out the quality?
  • Below is a photograph from further back (the areas is right of the tree on an angle). Do people think it will look good having a mini meadow in the area? 


Thanks for all your time and experience - any questions please feel free to ask. 
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Posts

  • MozigualMozigual Posts: 6
    Hi,
    This gives some good advice: http://nearbywild.org.uk/how-to-start-native-wildflower-meadow-six-easy-steps/ 
    I started mine last autumn, my lawn was quite mossy so I scarified it leaving a lot of bare soil and not much grass. Will see how it looks this year. Yellow rattle is a must apparently as it stops grasses taking over.
    Your process sounds good. I think some seeds need a cold spell to germinate so you may find some won't germinate until next spring even if you sow them now. I got my native seeds from emorsgate and they were great. There's a link on that webpage.
    Definitely do it, you will be surprised at how much wildlife it brings in.
    Cheers
  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 6,353
    So far I have planted two thirds of a wild meadow.  The first section was heavily scarified, scattering seeds in the barest patches of soil.  So there is some grass, some wild flowers and a few unwanted weeds in this first section.  This section produced flowers last summer and we loved the look, and there was a huge variety of different flowers. The bees and butterflies loved it.
    The second section was lightly dug over last Autumn and we planted some natural daffodil bulbs, some plug wild flower plants and then scattered wild flower seed and grasses over the soil.  This is doing quite well and to be honest now that it is all growing approx. 4 - 6 inches tall it is difficult to tell which are going to be the flowers and which are "weeds".
    The last patch is bare soil at the moment with quite a few plug plants inserted that I have planted over the winter - all of which look healthy.  Later this week or next I am going to scatter 100's of wild flower seeds and grasses to cover the soil.  This soil has previously been dug, raked and hoes and will be watered prior to sowing the seed.
    So annorthern, I don't think you are too late to sow, but try to get it prepared and sown sooner rather than later.  I don't think you will be having any more freezing weather now - do you?The photo shows the last section waiting to be sown in the next few days.  The plants are home grown plugs but you can buy wild flower plants from a good nursery or GC.  The soil is poor, no fertilizer in at least 40 years. The big clump near the front left side is ox eye daisy, grows quickly and encourages bees, other plants include teasle, foxgloves, oxalis , Ragged Robin and Knapweed.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,873
    just remember that when you pick the seeds the mix needs to be at least 60% meadow grasses (70% is better) otherwise the weeds can take hold more easily, you can also plant bulbs like snowdrops or lent lily's (native daffodils) to enhance the meadow.
    autumn is usually best to sow as the ground is warm enough for the seeds to germinate, however we've had a warm spring so now is better than any later.
    the soil mix for a good wildflower meadow can only be described as 'crappy', i've seen meadows sown onto almost pure sharp sand do better than formally cultivated land.
  • an.northernan.northern Posts: 3
    Okay so I removed turf over the area last weekend. Here is a pic near the end of the process. I sowed the seeds on Sunday and now there is a -1 forecast for tonight!! 

    Obviously I can't protect them at all - I guess if it kills the seeds I could just buy some more and re-sow in a week or so though?


  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 6,353
    That looks good an. and perhaps I was wrong to say take a chance with the weather, it certainly has taken a nose dive in the past few days especially on the u.k. mainland.  We have had colder here too.  At least if the showers continue you shouldn't need to water the seeds.  Let's hope for the best and depending how densely you sowed the seed most of it should germinate.  We sowed lawn seed today and I sowed my wild flower seed (part 1) about a week ago. None has germinated yet.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 8,015
    If the seeds haven't germinated yet, you should be OK.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Rose121Rose121 Posts: 132
    I have a small wildflower area beside the lawn. Only advice is that some of the taller ones really do flop onto the lawn, so you might want a low fence or similar to minimise sprawl. 
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,185
    edited 3 April
    Leave it alone. Wait. And see what comes to colonize the area naturally?

    It is nice if you want to add something, to help it along.
    I wonder if we try too hard sometimes. Adding things to help wildlife along can be a good thing. But don't worry about the temperature. Nature will take its course.

    We have a very shaded site with trees, get primroses and a lot of violets and dandelions in the slightly brighter bits. Our neighbours across the road complain about daisys, they get tons and have a sunnier garden across the road. we get the odd daisy at the edge where it is a tad sunnier and open.

    We get Daucus which is carrot family we never planted, it is lovely.
    The council verge off to the side has a sunnier aspect and has clovers and vetches, it looks marvelous in flower, until they mow it, so annoying.
    These all come naturally.

    Leave your plot, see what comes on its own and let it grow.
    You have a lovely plot by the way :)
  • an.northernan.northern Posts: 3
    Just a bit of an update - few months on and the flowers are all out :) 



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 56,264
    That looks a picture 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







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