Often, the only reason a lawn exists is because it fills a gap between two fences.
If you look at your lawn and cut it regularly but never walk or sit on it then why is it there?
A lawn needs a purpose this may be: picnics, sunbathing or impromptu games and sports. A lawn consisting of dwarf rye cut in stripes or checks can have aesthetic properties as does fine turf. On the other hand, large areas of British gardens consist of tired lawn areas that do nothing, and aren’t pretty to look at. Without a purpose the grass within a garden can become a waste of space and regular cutting; ride-on or walk behind mowing a waste of time and effort.
A flower meadow offers a useful alternative to a lawn and needs little in the way of time and maintenance. A flower meadow encourages bio- diversity and is interesting to look at. If you’re not using large areas of your lawn then converting to a flower meadow has to be an attractive option. Myriads of small creatures benefit from flowering plants and tall grasses that are allowed to make seed. These insects and small animals are valuable as pollinators and the first level of many food chains.
Once established your meadow requires one cut each year and the dead material moved to green waste, that’s it. Low maintenance is the key word that describes looking after a meadow. The less you do the better. Interesting flowers with scent and colour grow and die back through the seasons. These flowers attract all kinds of bees and butterflies so while your input is much less your garden offers you much more interest and colour.
There are several methods to establish different types of flower meadows. We can brush seed into an established lawn and hope for the best or prepare a seed bed from scratch. A reliable propagation technique is to germinate flower seed in a propagator then prick the seedlings out into individual plugs. This method provides young plants that can be transferred into your meadow.
If we attempt to establish a flower meadow into an existing lawn we need to rake it thoroughly to expose bare soil and then top dress with horticultural sand to cover the seed. The flower seed will have the best chance of growth in a poor sparse lawn. It may be that cuttings have been removed for years with no fertilizer or top dressing applications. This previous neglect will benefit the flower meadow because flowers can be slow growing and don’t need fast growing well fertilised grass to compete with.
If you wish to convert a lawn containing a lush thick grass sward into a flower meadow; remove the turf then dig and rake the soil to create a fine level seed bed. Sand is useful mixed with your flower meadow seed to ensure even distribution.
You can frame a flower meadow within your garden with a stripe of lawn around it. A single breed cut around the edge of a meadow in a conventional manner contrasts with tall irregular growth. A line the width of your mower appears manicured next to flowers and sparse grasses. It demonstrates that although the flower meadow contains wild flowers it is supposed to be there; within a design that you decided upon and arranged.