Romantic, colorful, and easy to maintain, meadows are also perfect habitats for wildlife. The flowers and grasses will thrive on infertile soil in a sunny site, and they need just one cut each year after the plants have set seed. Meadows look best on a large scale and are ideal if you have lots of space to fill.
When to start: Early autumn.
At their best: Summer.
Time to complete: 8 hours.
You will need: Wildflower seed, horticultural sand, spade, wheelbarrow, bamboo canes, spring-tined rake, garden rake, string and bird-scarer – such as ribbons or old CDs.
Mix seed with sand
To sow seed over a large area, first mix it with clean, dry horticultural sand. This helps spread the seed more evenly, and makes it obvious which areas you have already sown. Wildflower mixes should be sown at 3 grams per square yard, so weigh out this amount of seed and mix it up with the sand in batches in a clean container.
Remove a layer of topsoil
Topsoil is full of nutrients that encourage strong grasses to grow at the expense of delicate wildflowers. Use a spade and wheelbarrow to remove the top few inches, and recycle it elsewhere in the garden. Also remove any weeds and roots you find that could regrow and compete with the flowers.
Prepare the seedbed
Remove stones from the area and rake over the soil to break up the surface. Leave the site for two or three weeks, and then weed it again. To prevent the seeds from washing away, water the area before sowing, not afterward. Use canes to mark out the area into square yards, and sow each square with your batches of seed and sand mixture.
Use a spring-tined rake to lightly cover the seeds with soil after sowing. To avoid walking over sown areas, sow a small area at a time and then rake over it, before moving on to the next.
Firm soil gently
Use the back of a garden rake to gently compact the soil, ensuring good contact between seed and soil, which helps germination. It also makes the seed less visible to birds, who will happily eat their way through the lot if given the chance.
Tips: Keep birds at bay
To prevent hungry birds from eating the wildflower seed, set up a series of strings with old CDs threaded onto them across the sown area. The CDs reflect light as they move in the wind, which frightens off the birds.