Wildflowers: turf or seed?

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Discussion

Blib

Original Poster:

34,559 posts

135 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
We've recently had an offer accepted on a cottage in deepest Suffolk. The Boss informs me that she'd like a wildflower meadow in part of the garden.

I know nothing - about anything in general, but specifically about gardening, and I'm not sure what I should buy in order to give Mrs B. her meadow with the least amount of fuss.

I've found turf companies that can provide wildflower turf. Or, seed companies that will sell me bags full of wildflower seeds.

The garden consists mainly of newly laid turf over pretty poor, long-neglected soil.

What's my best course of action?

Thank you.



Edited by Blib on Monday 11th February 15:04

Mort7

172 posts

46 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
I’ve just spoken to the Head Gardener, a.k.a. Mrs M (I'm just the garden labourer) who gave the following advice.

It's labour intensive work (I know this from experience. We had to re-turf a lawn when our chickens ate it.), so it will be expensive to get someone else to do it.

The best but most expensive option is seeded turf. This will give the quickest results, but you'll have to dig up the old turf first. Last time we checked, good quality seeded turf was around £25 per turf (0.5 x 1.0 metre).

The next best option is to dig up the old turf, as this will stifle seed growth, fertilise, and sow seed. This will be cheaper, and take longer to give results, but still hard work.

Third option, do this. https://www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com/995-2/

Edit: And don't cut the flowers until after the seeds have set, obvs.



Edited by Mort7 on Monday 11th February 15:50

Jambo85

1,265 posts

26 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
I have read somewhere that wildflowers do best on poor neglected soils. I think it is because they are less likely to be outcompeted by weeds that thrive on nutrient rich soil.

garyhun

25,975 posts

166 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Seed it!

This is mine being prepared in 2016:




and what it looked like last summer. It's a great feeling to do something like this, enjoy and good luck!






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Blib

Original Poster:

34,559 posts

135 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Thank you everyone.

The land is poor. 18 months ago the cottage was an abandoned refurbishment and the garden was a churned dumping ground, full of rubble, bits of roof and various other pieces of detritus.

The current owner - a developer, has merely bulldozed the site and rugged it over. So, we have a blank, low grade canvas to play with

Stephanie Plum

2,474 posts

149 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
How big is the area of which you speak? If it’s huge then seed, but get rid of current turf first. If small, then returf.

Crasher242

55 posts

5 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
I'd go with seeding from scratch.

We put one in at our old place in Hereford a few years back - We had a 7 acre field, and set-aside 1 acre for a native woodland and wild flower meadow (the rest was for hay).
Trees were all saplings, but we seeded for the flowers - it took a while, but were well pleased with the results.
We were beekeepers, so we sited our expansion hives (12 in total) dotted around the meadow. The following year (after planting) the honey was magnificent smile

tokyo_mb

355 posts

155 months

Monday 11th February
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It's surprisingly hard work to get wildflowers established and stop grass overrunning them, even with relatively poor soil.

Turf is the quickest way to get something established, but don't underestimate the ongoing maintenance - ideally you want to be able to cut post flowering and seed setting for hay, and then (ideally) graze the area to help get the seeds of annual flowers embedded in the soil.

Blib

Original Poster:

34,559 posts

135 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Hhhm. There is evidently far more to a wildflower meadow than just chucking a load of seeds around.

garyhun

25,975 posts

166 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Blib said:
Hhhm. There is evidently far more to a wildflower meadow than just chucking a load of seeds around.
True, but once established it’s one cut a year. In addition, cutting your own paths and changing them each year is fun!

Paul Drawmer

3,999 posts

205 months

Tuesday 12th February
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I've been trying to keep our very small front garden as wild flowers for the past few years.
First of all we stripped off the very poor turf, I then sprayed it and left it for the summer, extracting stuff that sprung up that wasn't wanted. Seeded with wild flower mix in the autumn and waited.

Next year was brilliant

BUT....each year needs a LOT of managing, the grass will gradually take hold, and then you get a reduction in the pretty things until some sort of balance is reached between grass and wild flowers.

Now - 5 years in, I cut it all in the autumn with a sickle (not a big patch) then leave the 'hay' for a week. Then I rake all the cuttings up, disturbing it as much as possible to shake out all the seeds. During each winter, I walk over it and pick out the stuff that needs removing. It is quite hard work.


2017

video from the 1st year
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm96lIosTjk

Blib

Original Poster:

34,559 posts

135 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
Thank you all for your suggestions. We're thinking turf and i gavea basty feeling that i will be the designated custodian.......

jrh17

12 posts

6 months

Tuesday 12th February
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If you can get yellow rattle to grow in yourmeadow it supresses the growth of grass, it isnt easy to grow though. The best way is to get some fresh hay containing yellow rattle and spread it on your own meadow to shed its seeds. RHS Rosemoor has a large area with yellow rattle in and the difference to the grass is amazing

Blib

Original Poster:

34,559 posts

135 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
Thank you.

This place never fails to deliver. smile

garyhun

25,975 posts

166 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
jrh17 said:
If you can get yellow rattle to grow in yourmeadow it supresses the growth of grass, it isnt easy to grow though. The best way is to get some fresh hay containing yellow rattle and spread it on your own meadow to shed its seeds. RHS Rosemoor has a large area with yellow rattle in and the difference to the grass is amazing
It makes a cool noise when you brush against it too!

Vanordinaire

3,546 posts

100 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
You could split the difference between seeding and returfing by using wildflower plugs.
Something like this:-
https://www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com/shop/cat...

You'll get a quicker result than by seeding and not as expensive/labour intensive as turf.

Remember, as others have said, in the long term it's more about the maintenance regime than what you plant in the first place.

Johnnytheboy

17,294 posts

124 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
My boss plants a wild flower meadow for an agricultural show every year, and it's A LOT of work.

Main problem is stopping invasive weeds taking over IIRC.

bony_13

140 posts

35 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
Blib said:
Hhhm. There is evidently far more to a wildflower meadow than just chucking a load of seeds around.
Or y'know, leaving it wild...



garyhun

25,975 posts

166 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
bony_13 said:
Blib said:
Hhhm. There is evidently far more to a wildflower meadow than just chucking a load of seeds around.
Or y'know, leaving it wild...
To be fair, once it’s up and running it’s a piece of pish!