Plan­ning, pre­par­ing for a wild­flower gar­den

Annapolis Valley Register - - EVENTS - Out­door de­sign and life­style ex­pert Car­son Arthur has be­come the voice of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly land­scape de­sign and loves to help peo­ple max­i­mize their out­door spa­ces.

Over the last sev­eral months, I have had a lot of ques­tions from new home­own­ers about my wild­flower gar­den. When I pur­chased my cur­rent home, I was stuck the ex­act same way a lot of my fol­low­ers have been — I had a lawn that was more than an acre. I made the con­scious de­ci­sion to walk away from the grass and plant flow­ers in­stead. More and more home­own­ers are think­ing that this might be the op­tion for them.

If you are con­sid­er­ing a meadow/ wild flower gar­den, there are a few things to con­sider first:

1. Re­mov­ing the grass. Be­fore you can start plant­ing seeds, you need to find a safe and eth­i­cal way to re­move all of the ex­ist­ing lawn. (Spray­ing the en­tire area with a her­bi­cide de­feats the pur­pose of do­ing some­thing healthy for na­ture). In my case, I cov­ered the en­tire lawn with a se­ries of heavy tarps to nat­u­rally smother all of the grass be­neath them.

It takes about four to six months to re­ally en­sure that the hardi­est of weeds liv­ing in the lawn won’t come back. Once you’re done, till or plow the area to make sure that the roots of the now-yel­low lawn are ex­posed to the sun for a few days. This will help en­sure that your meadow starts out with as few weeds as pos­si­ble.

2. Choose the right seed se­lec­tion. Do your re­search and check the plants that you will be put­ting into your yard. The best mixes have a com­bi­na­tion of peren­ni­als, self-seed­ing an­nu­als and some bi­en­ni­als, which take two years to flower and re­seed. Also, check the square footage that each pack­age will cover. If you are plan­ning to sow the seeds by scat­ter­ing them by hand, then I sug­gest you dou­ble what you think you need. Trust me on this, I ran out half­way through spread­ing. My to­tal cost for seed for my 80 x 80 patch was just less than $800 be­cause I wanted to have lots of pop­pies.

3. Con­tain your gar­den. These plants you are in­tro­duc­ing are nat­u­rally de­signed to spread. Make sure you have a way to pre­vent the seeds from end­ing up in your neigh­bour’s lawn. I was lucky with a large sec­tion of spruce trees back­ing one side of my meadow and the drive­way on the other. I will still have to keep an eye out for plants that spread us­ing the wind.

This is the one part that I want ur­ban DIY’ers to pay at­ten­tion to. Your wild­flower gar­den will spread into your neigh­bour’s yard. I strongly cau­tion any­one think­ing about do­ing this in the front yard for this rea­son.

Your neigh­bours will be very an­gry with you once it does.

4. You still have to weed. For the first three years of a meadow gar­den, you will have to pull out the in­va­sive weeds so they don’t take over the space. This is part of the rea­son why re­search­ing what plants are in your seed mix is so im­por­tant.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my meadow. I love the rab­bits that live in the cen­tre and the honey that comes from the bee hives be­hind it. I get a dif­fer­ent show of flow­ers ev­ery month, and it’s al­ways un­ex­pected.

That said, this is not for every­one, es­pe­cially at this time of year. My other half hates the look of the meadow in the win­ter. It’s to­tally nat­u­ral, but maybe a lit­tle too nat­u­ral for some.

CAR­SON ARTHUR

Car­son loves his meadow. He loves the rab­bits that live in the cen­tre and the honey that comes from the bee hives be­hind it. He gets a dif­fer­ent show of flow­ers ev­ery month, and it’s al­ways un­ex­pected.

CAR­SON ARTHUR

Wild­flower gar­dens aren’t for every­one, es­pe­cially be­cause of how they look at this time of year.

Coun­try Gar­dens

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