How to manage my wildflower meadow?
Wildflower meadows take a while to establish and the first year of management is key to success:
- Cut the meadow regularly at a high level (around 10 cm) to keep vigorous grasses at bay
- Avoid cutting in spring and early summer if the mixture contains yellow rattle or cornfield annuals
- Make sure you walk through the area first to scare away any wildlife that could be injured by the mower
- Always remove all of the cuttings and compost away from the area
- Pull up any vigorous undesirable plants such as nettles, thistle and docks
Management in the future:
- For a spring flowering meadow you should mow from late June to October
- For a summer flowering meadow, cut between late July and March.
- However if the meadow is large enough, try cutting different sections at different times of year from early July through to early September. This will give the greatest diversity in sward and structure. If you continuously cut early then the plants may never set seed, but if you always cut late then the meadow will become ranker and lose diversity.
- Each time you mow, aim to keep sward height low (approximately 5 cm).
- Always remove cuttings
- Try to leave an area at the edge of your meadow uncut where invertebrates and other animals can spend the winter. You could rotate the uncut area on a 3 or 4 year cycle to prevent it becoming dominated by vigorous grasses.