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How To Create A Low Maintenance Wildflower Garden

Aug 17, 2007
An established wildflower garden requires much less maintenance than a conventional one. Making one, however, can initially be quite demanding as there is some basic preparation of the soil required and the garden takes time to become established. Creating a large meadow will need much more effort, so it is advisable for the time pressed gardener to concentrate on a small wildlife swathe.

Planting a Border
The simplest way to grow wildflowers is in an existing border, either on their own or with some other herbaceous plants and shrubs. This can work especially well if you combine wildflowers with the many garden plants that are forms of wildflowers, such as carpeting ajuga reptans and self seeding poppies and forget-me-knots.

Wildflowers can be sown or planted in the same way as other plants, but they will not thrive in ground that is fertilized.

On cultivated ground the ranker weeds tend to take over and smother the plants you want to encourage, so it is worth clearing the area of weeds first. Then you can sow the wildflower mixture or plant out perennials in the spring.

Colonizing a Lawn
You can scatter the wildflower seed directly over the area, but the competition for the grass will be intense. For better results, sow the seed in trays, prick out and grow the plants in pots first. Plant them out in spring, when the perennials are strong enough to compete with the existing grass.
Once the perennials are established, they will self-sow, which is always more successful than simply scattering seed yourself.

Converting a Field
If you are lucky enough to have a field and want to turn it into a wildflower meadow, your task is much harder.
Before you can start sowing or planting wildflowers you will need to spend a whole year mowing the grass at regular intervals to keep it short. This will kill off most of the invasive grasses, and leave only the finer ones. When the grass is under control, you can proceed as for a lawn.

Clearing New Ground
For those with a smaller area to convert, another effective method for establishing a wildflower area is to clear it completely, removing all traces of perennial weeds. Then sow a wildflower and grass mixture formulated for your area, as for a border. There are several suppliers for this type of seed.

Maintaining Wildflowers in Grass
Wildflowers in grass should be cut once or twice a year. The best time is in summer once the main flush of plants have seeded. Remove the cuttings to prevent feeding the soil.
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