Keeping a mini meadow
It’ll need an annual ‘short back and sides’ around now to give flowers a helping hand
Bees, butterflies and many other mini-beasts – a wildflower meadow area brings so much to your garden. The other truly great thing about switching from a prim and proper lawn to a wild, free meadow is that it gives you back your life. No more being a slave to the lawnmower!
And there’s no watering to do either, or feeding for that matter. What a meadow does need, though, is its annual short back and sides. Traditionally, July was the time for hay-making, but an August cut is just as good.
Cutting all that growth down to ankle height gives the grass component of your meadow ‘community’ a knock back. This gives flowers such as cowslips, selfheal and bugle, a boost.
What you use to do the job depends a lot on the size and situation of your meadow. You can use a strimmer, but it’s hard to remove all the cut material after a strim.
And getting as much as you can off and away is important. A scythe is the old school solution. For smaller, or sloping, patches it’s safer to go slow and use garden shears. However you do the job, what you’re trying to achieve is to leave grass and wildflowers that are around 7½cm (3in) tall.
The ‘hay’ you’ve cut should stay where it is for two or three days to dry in the sun. Seed heads release their contents, guaranteeing more flowers in coming years. That’s about it for maintenance. In theory anyway!
In practice there’s the perennial weed problem. Left to its own devices a meadow will be captured by one perennial weed or another. Thistle down will blow in, or nettles and brambles will creep out from a boundary hedge. Keeping invaders at bay has to be an ongoing job. You can keep things in balance by doing some hand weeding two or three times a week.
Help flowers triumph over grasses with a meadow trim now