Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A Wildflower Lawn

We don't have a very big lawn in our garden, but it still managed to be a lot of trouble - it had become infested with couchgrass and lots of weeds, and was always trying to escape its brick boundary and creep across the paths. So last year we decided to turn it into a wildflower lawn, where 'weeds' could be at home, within reason, and we wouldn't have to worry about keeping it looking tidy and even and flawless.

We covered it up with black plastic for a couple of months in the late summer, to kill off the exisitng growth. That seemed to work fine for the lawn itself but the couchgrass, dandelions and creeping buttercups still kept going, so it's been a battle since then to get rid of all the weeds, and I spent a couple of weeks in April hoeing regularly to cut down any new weed seedlings.

We bought a low-flowering seed mix from Wildflower Lawns and Meadows which contains 26 different flowers including buttercups, daisies, agrimony, selfheal, ragged robin, camomile, creeping thyme, cowslips, clovers, yarrow, fox and cubs, wild orchids and more, as well as a mixture of grasses. It's supposed to have a very long flowering season, to be tough enough for light traffic, and to reflower rapidly after mowing, which will only be needed around once a month. And of course it'll be wonderful for bees and butterflies!

After much weeding, hoeing and raking, I scattered the seed about two weeks ago and we've been keeping it watered to help things germinate. The first seedlings are beginning to show now - I hope they are the seed I sowed and not other things which were already in the soil! (Of course, some of the old 'weeds' were species which are also in the seed mix, so it's not all bad!)

There are some tough older weeds rearing their heads again too - obviously I missed a few - so it's going to be an ongoing task to weed out docks and couchgrass for a little while...

Though I'd really like to be using the lawn this summer, I think it's going to take quite a while to grow strongly enough to walk on. But I'm sure it's going to be worth the wait and look lovely when it's established!


Robert Brenchley said...

Docks and the like die if they're mowed regularly. Watch out for grass taking over and crowding out the flowers. It likes a rich soil, which most of us have in our gardens, while meadow flowers are slower growing and quite happy in very poor soil. If I ever do a wildflower lawn I may well use subsoil!

Colin Reader said...

Hi Naomi and Eddie

I just came across your blog spot :)

Nice to see your project using my low flowering lawn mix, water it when it starts to germinate as that will speed up establishment (although being native wild flowers they will survive on just the dew if they have to). It is good to hear you comment on weed seeds in your soil, many people forget this and I always stress preparation prior to seeding being very important. As you are aware once light and warmth hit the soil surface weed seeds which have built up over the previous years and have been sitting under the previous vegetation can start to germinate, annuals are the fastest to grow and try to dominate, however the advantage of my low flowering lawn mix is that you should start mowing it when it reaches 3 inches tall, cutting it down to about 2 inches and this form of management does not favour many annual weeds and if they are not allowed to flower and drop their seed they will not persist in future years. Broad-leaved docks can be a real nuisance as they drop so many seeds which are viable for years and they tend to stagger their germination too which I think is done just to tease us! However one of the smaller dock relatives, wild sorrel, I actually put in my lawn seed mix, it is great in a lawn and very tasty in salads, just biting into a leaf releases a gorgeous citrus flavour, so refreshing on a hot day when sitting on your lawn.

I will enjoy seeing your lawn develop; let me know if you need any advice. When you mow collect and remove the cuttings and that way you will not block the light out for the developing wild flowers.

With best wishes

Colin Reader
Wild Flower Lawns and Meadows

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...