The shortcut to wildflowers in your garden
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.