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23/02/2014 at 15:19

I've got a steep grassy bank at one side of my my drive, which is covered in a hardy grass (not sure what, about 15-20cm high).  I am really keen to get a bit of colour in there (love the idea of wild/meadow flowers). There is now way I can dig clear the area of all the grass, so I need something I can scatter/sow/plant, which will add colour and compete with the established hardy grass. Any ideas?

23/02/2014 at 15:39

Is it the sort of grass you cut back novice or is it just left to look after itself?

23/02/2014 at 15:54

I haven't cut it back, it's just left to look after itself. I'll try and post a photo if that helps. I'm down in Cornwall too, so climate is mild and it south facing so gets the sun for most of the day.

23/02/2014 at 15:55

Yes, good idea, do a photo

23/02/2014 at 16:24


23/02/2014 at 17:14

I think you'll have to find away of cutting it if it's going to look good. 

If it were mine I'd clear a bit at a time and plant up with something tough, lesser knapweed or dog daisies maybe and some cowslips. But everything in gardening needs attention. Wildflower meadows need cutting back at least yearly or they disintegrate into a mess. You could weaken the grass by sowing yellow rattle into it in the autumn. 


23/02/2014 at 18:19

Foxgloves, aqualegia, hardy geraniums, primroses, native bluebells, ferns, honesty, Queen Anne's lace; all the things you find in road-side verges/banks. You will need to strim/brushcut once a year. Cut later rather than earlier then the plants have time to seed.

23/02/2014 at 18:48

Hiya novice

I know you mentioned wild flowers but how about osteospermums there?  I,would weedkill the grass etc and plant out osteospermums .....spreading out the stems and pegging them down.  Perfect for them there.

I'm in Cornwall too and osteospermums thrive here.  Or Erigeron?  

23/02/2014 at 19:29

Thank you for the advice.

23/02/2014 at 20:55

I have a flat but high border of grass at the front of my house.  It only gets sun in the morning.  I am going to sow some of the many poppy seeds I have in it and also some Cornflowers, other Cornflowers seem to survive down the lane where I live so I hope that will work.  I can't really give advice as I'm not knowledgeable enough but will enjoy reading the answers for more ideas for me too

23/02/2014 at 22:22

Lucky you Novice.

From what I can see.  This slope, bank or whatever seems to be well established.  I agree with Nut'.  Perhaps a cut would improve it, but.  From my knowledge of grasses.  It appears there are many tuft/hummock forming species in there.  Simply to cut down to a reasonable height, might make it look worse.

If I may, without offending anyone.  Most of the suggestions put forth, are ecellent.  However the terrain here is a slope/mound  For one to see and benefit from such sowings, you would need to comfortably walk about on it.  Might I suggest.  Try and reduce the size of most of the clumps.  Reduce the height, don't try and make it a lawn.  Here and there, I'd be inclined to plant a few Cornus.  Dogwoods.  At this time of the years, their stems whether red or greenish white, really do make a fine display. Plan ahead for next year. Take your time.  Afew clumps of Daffs and other bulbs will certainly play their part.  Coming down the slope nearer the path level.  The I would tend to go along with the suggestions other members have made.  You can actually purchase packets of wild flower seed.  This could easily be broardly cast.

To be honest.  I so often find it very difficult to advise in cases like this.  Whereas, to stand side by side and chat about it.  Then that's a different situation.   So much.  My friend.  Depends upon, what deep down in your thoughts.  YOU would like to see, each time you look at the slope.


Please keep us all informed.

23/02/2014 at 23:27

Mike I agree it's far better to talk side by side about a project.  The pros and cons are soon sorted.  I guess that's where the forum helps 

24/02/2014 at 08:09

I think it would look worse when cut as Mike says, but in the long run much better. Lots of grasses are tussocky if left, cocksfoot for one,but a good strim sorts it out.

It just looks like neglected grass now. What I wouldn't do is dig, except  holes for planting. It's all holding now but if you loosen the soil it will be away down the drive in the first heavy rain.

I'd cut it, wait for it to grow, kill patches with glyphosate where I wanted to plant, then just make planting holes. If you're using native plants suitable for your soil they'll be able to cope with that.

Then give it all another cut when seeding is over in the late summer. 


24/02/2014 at 09:41

As your bank looks as though it is in a rural situation, try to avoid plants that are more at home in a cultivated garden.  Look closely at hedge banks as you drive about and try to replicate those.  Subtle is best!

24/02/2014 at 09:50

I agree, large, bright-coloured double flowers. No 

24/02/2014 at 10:41

Hi there novice3,

I agree with nutcutlet on the yellow rattle for your area of grass – I might even suggest you see this as a 2yr project where you only sow/plant plugs of yellow rattle in year 1.

I’m trying yellow rattle on a much smaller scale in a semi cleared, area. My grass mound was sown with wildflowers in mind too but the young grass at just 2yrs still choked space for the flowers to grow. My sowing was last November so I've yet to see this plant growing.

I found this info for you:

“Can Yellow Rattle be used to reduce grass growth? 

Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is a hemi­parasite which photosynthesizes for itself but also parasitizes the roots of some plants, especially grasses. Because it removes nutrients from the grasses, they produce less growth and the balance of competition is changed in favour of the wildflower species in a mixture.  Yellow Rattle can also build up in patches and then die out, especially if it the host grasses die out.  The bare patches are then open for colonization by wildflowers.”

Source: (more on wildflower meadows there too)

24/02/2014 at 11:23

It works more efficiently than I thought it would. I was amazed.

I suppose as it runs out of grass to be parasitic on the YR dies and the grass comes back. 

I think maybe it's only semi-parasitic though, I've had it growing in the gravelled nursery area.

24/02/2014 at 13:14

Oooooo, nobody likes my bright,flower suggestion.  Is it because I wear yellow trousers, blue shoes and red bow tie? 

A friend of mine has a long sloping bank below a hedge on the main road. ,it was overgrown with grass and bramble.  Now it is home to osteospermums and looks......yes, bright with summer flowers.  Cornwall is home to such displays of temder,summer lomg flowers like Osteos, Erigeron, mesembryanthemum, etc.  The light bright comditions in Cornwall are conducive to this sort of plantIng

24/02/2014 at 15:34

You could add ajugas, geraniums, thrift, black grass, ipheion, sedum. My first thought was cornus but they can get large very quickly, though Midwinter Fire or Midwinter Beauty can stay fairly compact.

24/02/2014 at 20:08

Wow, so, so much to think about.  Thank you all very much for your advice, I'll let you know how I get on.

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