How to create a meadow
by Frann Leach
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Want a good excuse for not mowing your lawn ever again? Turn it into a meadow.

Gardens are places where nature is usually kept sternly under control, to the exclusion of all the natural plants that would be there if we didn't spend hours preening, mowing and pulling up anything we haven't deliberately planted. But in doing this, we make a rod for our own back, because no sooner have we manicured the whole garden once, than it's time to go back and do it all over again.

Unless you are one of those people who actively likes mowing the lawn, here's a project that will give you the excuse never to have to do it again, and at same time, do your bit for your local natural heritage. I don't need to tell you how happy your local insect and bird population will be to find a new meadow in your area.

And you don't just save on mowing, there's no need to feed or water once the meadow is established, either. You may need to remove thistles and other perennial weeds now and then; try and do this while they are small, so that the roots don't go too deep.

Converting your lawn into a meadow

1. Easy method (takes a bit longer to establish, but it still works)

Mow the lawn. Rake off the moss, if there is any, and all the 'thatch' (the dead grass that develops into a mat on established lawns).

Hire a scarifier and use it to scarify the whole lawn (or if it's a very small lawn or you're feeling energetic, you can achieve the same effect by poking a garden fork into the lawn all over every 6 or 7 cm). It will end up looking pretty scruffy. Don't worry, this is only temporary.

If there are any perennial weeds in the lawn, dig them up, making sure to get every bit of root or they will regrow. Flatten the earth where the weeds were, so it is level with the rest of the lawn.

Buy a good 'meadow herb' mixture suitable for your area and broadcast all over the lawn. Don't skimp on seeds; remember the birds will take some of them.

Water thoroughly once, unless you get a heavy downpour first.

Sit back and wait.

2. More expensive method

You can use bought in plug plants (if you can find a supplier with plants suitable to your area) instead of broadcasting seed. These will need to be planted all over as irregularly as possible. If it's a big lawn, it will take quite a long time to do the planting, but the final results should be much quicker (although some may die as this type of plant doesn't like root disturbance). You will still need to water at least once.

©2005 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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