Planting Wildflowers in your lawn will attract butterflies, birds, bees and wildlife of all kinds into your garden. Human visitors too. Especially older folk who can remember wildflower meadows, poppy fields, cornflowers and chewing on a stem of wild grass! They will like it and reminisce about those days.
Kids who have never rolled around in wild grass will love it too.
A wildflower lawn is easy to grow, beautiful when in full flower and low maintenance. Requiring mowing only about twice a year, more about that later.
First Four things to consider;
Also worth reading. A little bit of the history of wildflower meadows, what is a wildflower meadow, what they were used for and how they were maintained covered in my article further down on this page.
The grass and wildflowers you can sow, or encourage naturally over a longer period, depending on which method you choose, will depend on the type of soil in your garden. Some wildflowers prefer clay, some sandy, some saturated and some dry, but all prefer poor soil.
Further down this page I have listed wildflowers and the types of soil they grow best in. Including acid soil, sandy soil, loam, clay sole and saturated soil and the silty soil found on the banks of wildlife ponds and streams.
Like most flowers and grass you're meadow plants will grow best in an open, sunny, non shaded position in your garden. However, it is not a problem if your garden is mostly shaded you can purchase and sow hedgerow and woodland plants or seeds that will tolerate shady areas. In fact, if the wildflower lawn extends into trees or a wildlife hedge, grass banks and stony areas, etc. the greater the diversity of the grass and wildflowers you will be able to grow.
Unless the soil has been saturated with fertiliser or the lawn contains Rye grass you won't need to remove the existing turf. Most domestic lawn grass is not that vigorous to be a problem, but it is helpful to reduce competition by existing grass anyway by sowing "Yellow Rattle" seed into the lawn. It is parasitic on the roots of grass, and once established will reduce the growth of the grass by about 50%. Yellow Rattle grows naturally in all established wildflower meadows and is sown between August and December as it needs a period of cold to germinate.
How to remove Ryegrass from a lawn. When converting an existing lawn you will need to remove all trace of rye-grass as it is vigorous and will compete with your wild flowers. You can't use weed killers because they are not selective and will kill the other grass.
The only option is to meticulously dig the ryegrass out by hand, making sure none is left to spread its way back into your wildflower lawn. Or, and here's the rub, remove the complete lawn and re-sow with a hay meadow mix of seeds.
Weedy lawn. If the lawn is full of weeds they will compete with wildflowers so will have to be dug out or treated with weed-killer..... Probably easier to kill of the complete lawn and seed with a wild grass and flower mix.
Mowing the existing grass. The wild lawn/wild flower meadow area needs to be cut short before planting, making sure to remove the cut grass to your compost heap.
Grass preparation is fairly easy. You will need to cut the grass very short and remove the clippings from the lawn. Then, firmly rake the area removing as much of the thatch as possible to create open areas where seeds can get to the soil and germinate.
More about each of the methods;
The transplanting method will be time-consuming and more expensive than seeding, but will speed up the appearance of wildflowers growing in your lawn.
Transplanting meadow wildflowers from pots or plugs directly into your wild lawn is the quickest way to establish wildflowers into your wild lawn. They can be bought online as pot plants or as plugs and planted directly into an existing grass lawn.
Do not take plants from the wild.
Try to mix the species and plant the wildflower plants informally, as if seed had blown in on the breeze. Depending on your budget, plant as many as you can for a quick effect. However, they will reseed anyway in the autumn after flowering eventually covering the whole wild flower lawn.
Container-grown wild flowers can be planted out in autumn to establish over winter or planted in early spring before the grass has grown to tall.
Important. The wildflower plants you choose will need to be suited to the type of soil in your garden. Work out the type of soil in your garden.
This way is a bit slower than transplanting ready-grown plants, but achieves the best results in the long run and is
Select a mix of Wildflowers and Grasses that will thrive in the type of soil in your garden. Follow the sowing instructions on the packet.
Sow a wildflower mix that suits your type of soil, at 1.5g per square metre. Then rake the area over after sowing to help the seed into the soil.
As the seedlings start to show in the late autumn or spring, you will need to give your new wild flower lawn a mow, setting the blade fairly high to about 3in, this allows light to reach the emerging seedlings.
In the following seasons your wild flower lawn should be left to grow to its natural height, to allow the flowers to naturally spread their seeds. More about this later. Click the pic to see range of seeds.
Wildflower Seed mats are suitable for small areas of lawn and borders they are biodegradable mats already sown with a mix of flower seeds. Therefore, all the hard work is done for you. Instructions vary depending on the supplier and type of mat, but couldn't be easier, Prepare and rake the planting area or border, roll out the seed mat, cover it with soil and keep it watered.
For larger areas you can purchase special wildflower meadow turf. I have explained how to prepare the soil for turfing toward the bottom of this page.
This should appeal to folk like me who don't particularly like spending Sunday afternoon mowing the lawn.
Turn away now "green lawn man".
Just stop mowing and let your lawn or even a patch of lawn go wild. The grass will grow long and wildflowers will grow and colonise naturally creating, over time, a lovely wild lawn.
This method could however, take a while, but if you are lucky enough to have a wildflower meadow fairly near to you. Wind and birds natural seed distribution will speed the transformation up. If you choose to let nature turn your lawn into a wildflower lawn naturally. The first wildflowers to appear will be the low rosette type lawn weeds, including daisies, plantains and cat's ear and the creeping plants such as selfheal and speedwells.
As you're wild flower lawn or meadow establishes, the height of the grass will increase. Taller plants and wild meadow flowers will appear and in some areas of the wild lawn the daisies and other low growing wild flowers will gradually disappear.
Over the seasons airborne seeds and seeds delivered by birds will slowly begin to build up turning your lawn into a beautiful wildflower meadow. A bonus of this method is you won't need to be concerned with the type of soil you have. Natural selection will be at work in your lawn.