The short­cut to wild­flow­ers in your gar­den

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Step By Step -

Lay­ing wild­flower turf gives you an al­most in­stant flow­ery mead. By Ian Hodg­son

Ready-to-use wild­flower mats or turf rolls are very easy to use, and ideal for begin­ners or those wish­ing to es­tab­lish a meadow quickly. The turves are cre­ated by sow­ing seed on to com­post, which is held in place by a mesh base on a per­me­able plas­tic sheet. (Turf grown in this way is of­ten used in Chelsea show gar­dens to give a well es­tab­lished look – you may re­mem­ber Dan Pear­son’s Chatsworth-in­spired gar­den from 2015 that used a be­spoke wild­flower turf mix).

If you plan to use turf, you may need to pre-or­der it a few weeks or months in ad­vance, par­tic­u­larly if it is be­ing grown specif­i­cally for you. This kind of turf is ideal for do­mes­tic lawns and slopes and larger ar­eas where meadow turf will help sta­bilise changes of level.

Al­though, in the­ory, turves can be in­stalled at any time of year, they are best laid in au­tumn, late win­ter or spring when the ground is moist. If laid in drier weather, wa­ter the ground be­fore­hand and ir­ri­gate the turves un­til es­tab­lished. Be­fore lay­ing turf, pre­pare the ground well in ad­vance and re­move all weeds. Rake over the area and fill any de­pres­sions to level the site and en­sure the turf roots will be in con­tact with the soil. Turves can be heavy and if this will be a prob­lem for you, ask the sup­plier about tur­flay­ing ser­vices or to rec­om­mend a land­scap­ing com­pany that can carry out the work.

The sup­plier will ad­vise on when, how and at what height the meadow turf should be mown. The tim­ing is im­por­tant as it usu­ally al­lows for some plants to re­seed, so that they will bloom again the fol­low­ing year. Re­move and com­post the mown clip­pings to pre­vent them from smoth­er­ing the weaker plants and fer­til­is­ing the ground, and do not use any fer­tilis­ers un­less the sup­plier rec­om­mends it.

Meadow turf will tol­er­ate light foot traf­fic, but if you need to walk across it reg­u­larly, add per­ma­nent step­ping stones or paving. Al­ter­na­tively, mow a route reg­u­larly to cre­ate a short turf path­way through the flow­ery mix. Re­move any weeds as they ap­pear and plant hand­fuls of spring bulbs in drifts to add to the ef­fect.

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