Planting a wildflower meadow

Planting a wildflower meadow
    One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden is to plant a wildflower meadow, as these areas provide ideal habitats for insects and birds. Even if you have a small plot, you'll be able to find room for a wildflower patch.

Wild About Gardens recommends using a poor patch of ground that hasn't been cultivated recently, as wildflower meadows establish best on unproductive soil. It's also advisable to check your soil pH before making a selection of seeds, as there are various mixtures available.

There are different approaches to establishing a wildflower meadow. You could just set aside your lawn and wait for what arrives – or you could put in a bit more effort and prepare as thoroughly as possible.

If you opt for the latter approach, weeds should be controlled by digging or rotovating, which also brings any less fertile soil to the surface. A seedbed can then be created by firming and raking the surface.

The most important point to remember when establishing your meadow is not to add manure or fertiliser, as this will encourage grasses to grow and prevent flowers from thriving.

You should sow in autumn to allow seed time to settle in during the winter. Scatter lengthways and widthways to ensure an even distribution, rake in lightly and water thoroughly.

The mowing regime is crucial to the survival of your wildflower meadow, with the number of cuts required ranging between one and four. Whenever the height reaches 10-20cm, you should cut back to 5-7cm. 

You shouldn't need to mow the area more than a few times a year. Once in late July/early August and once in early autumn should suffice.

After mowing, you should leave the clippings for a couple of days to drop any seed before raking up and removing to reduce soil fertility.

If you're planning to do any gardening – wildflower of otherwise – this weekend looks like it could be ideal. Saturday in particular could be a perfect day for it, with temperatures in the south-east hitting the late twenties. 

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