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9 messages
28/10/2012 at 16:32

is there anyone that can give me advice on how to get rid of rush weed so a meadow can be made..

also what is the best form of a drainage systen in a wet meadow

thanks

cody

28/10/2012 at 16:44

What sort of rush are you talking about?

What is the purpose of the meadow?

Some of the best English meadows for native plants and wildlife are damp meadowland http://www.countrysideinfo.co.uk/meadows/wetplant.htm, and so many of them have been destroyed by indiscriminate draining.  

In my lifetime I've seen fields full of wild snakeshead fritillaries and ladysmock disappear from wonderful old meadows that have been devastated by 'improvement'.

28/10/2012 at 17:02

You will get rid of rush if you improve both the drainage and fertility, but is that what you want?  What do you want to do with the meadow?  Grazing, wild flower meadow?

28/10/2012 at 20:18
Hi it was a new wild flower meadow in its first year last year and was beautiful but nothing this year... Its very damp sloping field next to a beck which is surrounded with lots of rushes.. The rushes have come through onto the meadow now and taking over.... I think the meadow is going to need some drainage but how and will the rush weed meed ploughing out.... Also what are best wild flowers for a wet meadow....
28/10/2012 at 20:26
Thankyou dovefromabove????
28/10/2012 at 23:44

Ragged Robin for starters.  Water mint near the stream, also marsh marigold, Have a look through a Wild Flower book for inspiration.  Take care not to plant anything invasive like Himalayan Balsam.

29/10/2012 at 07:01

Sorry Cody, was that a bit snappy?  I apologise - it's just that I've seen wonderful wetland meadows ruined by well-intentioned draining, and wetland meadows are becoming so rare .  I've a bit more time this morning and I'll try to be more helpful.

If you've a meadow area running down to a beck then you've an ideal place to develop a wetland meadow habitat with lots of specialist wild flowers and herbs.  Soft rushes are one of the plants native to a damp meadow.

It's a shame that your meadow was disappointing in it's second year - did you use an ordinary flower-meadow mix?  If so that's likely to have been the problem.  You need flowers and herbs that grow naturally in damp meadowland, such as those on this list http://www.habitataid.co.uk/acatalog/Wet_Meadow_Seed_Mix.html .  

Another of the important things about establish a flowering meadow is how you manage it.  The grass will need to be cut late in the summer after the flowers have seeded, and then the grass should be raked up and taken away, so that it doesn't form a thatch and decompose and add its nutrients to the soil because what you're aiming for with a flower meadow is poor soil, not rich improved soil. (The opposite of what most farmers need for grazing.)  And the grass should not be cut very short like with a lawn mower - it should be cut so that the grass is left at least 10cm tall - like a meadow, not a lawn.  How big is your meadow?  If it is big do you know anyone who can cut it with a scythe for you?  If it's small you can do it with a pair of hedge shears.  Another suggestion if it's big is that you could get someone to lend you a few lambs to graze it in the late summer after the flowers have gone over. Or you could charge them for the grazing to raise funds for more plants 

As for the rushes -  is this the Soft Rush? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juncus_effusus  It grew on the farm where I grew up and we used to weave little mats and baskets from it.  I love it and it is a native plant of English water meadows, but it does spread - the best way of dealing with it is to dig it out I'm afraid.  I'd leave it be down by the beck, but if it starts spreading up the slope further than you want it then dig it out.  

Any form of draining, (such as mole draining done by farmers) will be expensive, and you might have to get permission from the Environment Agency to drain into a beck, and on a small scale draining is unlikely to be effective as if you won't be able to  lower the water table of the surrounding land, and it will drain into your land.

I hope that's helpful - I'd love to see a picture or two of the area you're working on.

29/10/2012 at 16:10

thanks for all the good advice,i am only 11 and helping a friend and have spent alot of time looking for help on the internet but there is alot to take in.

29/10/2012 at 16:35

Great that you've got a friend to do gardening with  and you can learn together and from each other.  

If you want a wildflower meadow the most important thing to get right is the mowing routine - getting it 'topped' as I described after the flowers have set seed and removing the grass (either as hay or to put on a compost heap).  

Don't cut it at all at other times of the year and don't, whatever you do, let anyone put any fertiliser on it.  

The next most important thing is getting the right plants - and you can choose some from the list on the Habitataid website I gave you a link to.

One other plant that I meant to mention is the wild daffodil (narcissus pseudonarcissus).  It's the daffodil that's grew wild in England years ago and is the one that Wordsworth wrote his poem about.  It loves to grow in damp meadows and doesn't mind a bit of flooding occasonally.  It's a little late in the season, but iIf you can get hold of any of the bulbs you could plant them now.  They will naturalise and spread and will look wonderful down by your beck. They have some on this site http://www.naturescape.co.uk/acatalog/Autumn_bulbs_.html and the price doesn't look too bad.  They also have Snakeshead Fritillaries, which are really rare in the wild now.  They used to grow in wetland meadows across England, but a lot of them were ploughed up during WW2.  They also are quite happy to put up with getting their feet wet from time to time.  

I wish you lots of luck with your project.  I'd love to see some photos sometime so we can see how it develops 

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