Three ways to create a mini-meadow

A wildflower meadow is a beautiful addition to your garden and needn't take up a lot of space. An annual meadow will give you a one-off display in summer, while a perennial meadow will provide colour from year to year. You can create the meadow look in your garden by three main methods.

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Use wildflower turf

If the area you want to cover is small, a pre-grown wildflower mat is a good option. Pre-grown wildlflower mats are essentially wildflower turf, which is grown with a mat backing, to make it easier to lift, move and lay.

Making a meadow this way can be done at almost any time of year, although it's trickier and more expensive to lift, ship and lay a meadow that's in flower, so spring and autumn are the best times.

Use plug plants

Wildflower plug plants can be popped straight into an existing lawn. It helps if the lawn is quite poor in the first place, with plenty of 'weeds' such as speedwell, clover, self-heal, plantain and bird's-foot trefoil. These will become part of your new meadow.

A lawn full of 'weeds', indicates that the soil beneath isn't too rich, which will suit the wildflowers and grasses well.

You can plant wildflower plugs at almost any time of year, as long as the plugs are available and the ground is neither waterlogged, bone dry or frozen solid. If you want to turn a small front lawn into a meadow, or want to add wildflowers to an area of bulbs naturalised in grass, plugs are perfect. They're usually sold in multipacks.

Grow from seed

Creating a meadow from seed is the most cost-effective method and is equally suited to annual and perennial meadows. To prepare the soil for sowing, simply fork it over and rake to a fine tilth.

However, in a reversal of normal gardening process, you should not improve or feed it with compost. You don't want a rich soil, as this encourages coarse grasses and broad-leaf weeds that can overwhelm the more desirable perennial wildflowers. Annual wildflowers always remain more compact and flower more freely on unimproved soils.

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Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury says

Sow yellow rattle among the flowers. This is a hemiparasite of grass, and will suppress its growth, allowing the wildflowers to thrive.

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