Preparing the soil for wild flowers
This might come as a surprise, but you might have been spending the last few years preparing the soil for wild flowers.
If you watch some of my videos about lawns and grass cutting you will hear me mention how 'cut and remove' is the perfect way to manage a wild flower lawn or meadow.
Cut and remove? I hear you ask...Thats what most people do when they mow their lawns with a grass box. All the nutrient the grass has taken from the soil in order to grow, is collected in the grass box and dumped in a compost bin. Or worse still a local authority garden waste bin.
This constant depletion of nutrients in the soil is just what wild flowers want. It's the opposite of what a lush grass lawn wants.
Yet this is how people have been conditioned to mow their lawns. Then they wonder why the grass is struggling to complete with moss and broad leaved weeds. Either that or they combat the nutrient loss from their mowing regime by introducing chemical or granular fertilisers. More cost!
The video below shows me sowing seeds in my own small front garden. The ground was previously planted with a mix of perennials and shrubs.
If you have a lawn that you are considering removing or changing the simplest way to get it ready for wild flowers is to remove the turf. Hire a turf lifter for this, it makes the job so much quicker. While you're on, hire a cultivator. You'll want to use this to turn the soil. It doesn't have to be deep. Rake the area level once it has been dug over. Firm the soil with a roller. Also easy to hire. Then either follow the video above or lay your rolls of wildflower turf. Make sure you get a full plant list for the seed mix and the turf. Insist that a native species mix is included. None native plants serve no purpose other than colour and some pollen.
When should you do all this?
Ideally in Spring between March and April but the best time is Autumn between September and November. Whether seeding or turfing, it's a good idea to plant some native bulbs in the soil first. These will provide an extension to the season of interest. Snakehead fritillary, snowdrops, bluebells and old English narcissus are great for adding a splash of colour early in the year.