Meadow Seed Advice Sheet
Instructions and maintenance below are for both the Native UK Meadow Seed Mix and the Native UK Wild Flower Mix.
Ideally this meadow seed prefures low nutrient soils that have not been heavily fertilised in the past. Clear the soil of weeds and sow onto bare soil, fork the soil to a depth of 10cm to avoid compaction. Rake the seedbed to remove obstructions and then tread or lightly roll it so that it can be trod on without leaving depressions.
This seed should be sown between March and middle December. Spring and autumn provide ideal conditions as moisture and warmth are in good supply.
Distribute the seed with a handheld or pedestrian spreader, at the recommended sowing rate of 4g sqm. Mix the seed with an inert carrier (such as sharp sand), at a ratio of four parts sand to one part seed (by weight). This makes it easier to achieve an even distribution and also provides a visual marker, making it easier to see any missed parches and avoid seeding areas twice.
While sowing regularly mix the seed as it will naturally separate due to variations in size and weight.
You will now need to ensure good contact between the seeds and the soil. To do this lightly rake the seedbed to a maximum depth of 10cm, or roll.
The sowing rate is 4g sqm and is the optimum to get best results. Reducing it will allow weeds to take over and compete with the flowers, increasing the rate can mean reduced diversity as aggressive species will out compete slower growing species.
Seeds used in this mix are all recommended as native British and ideal for pollinators.
First Year Maintenance
This mix contains many perennial species which can be slow to establish and unlikely to flower in year one. Therefore it is important to control weed and grass growth.
During the first year remove any weeds which grow before the run to seed, either by topping, mowing or by hand for smaller areas. Weed growth is common due to the action of disturbing the ground (rather than being caused by contaminated seed mix)
The nurse grasses are the first to grow and require topping or mowing in March and again in May. Remove all clippings to ensure the grass canopy doesn’t interfere with germination and spring growth of the wildflowers.
In September / October cut the area to 10cm using a scyth, strimmer or mower, leaving the cuttings for up to a week before removing. This allows them to dry and shed their seeds back into the soil. Mow or graze the re-growth through autumn / winter and again in early spring if needed.
Second Year Maintenance
After 12 months the sward should be well established. Simply follow the same cutting pattern (in March and September / October). Avoid cutting from mid spring to summer to ensure best flowering results.
As an ongoing process, observe and remove any weeds which invade the area.
Over time, some species within the mixture may become more dominant due to environmental factors and natural selection. To encourage diversity, simply reduce the number of dominant plants in order to restore the balance. In some areas with more dominant grasses, it maybe necessary to overseed occasionally with pure wildflower mixture to ensure the wildflowers remain competitive.
If sowing into a lawn. The best way to sow into a lawn is to strip the turf off. However if you do decide to try and covert your lawn to a meadow it can take as long as 5 years to become and established meadow. Wildflowers like poor soil so if you are looking to do this at a time in the future stop feeding your lawn, if you are doing it now don’t feed again. Strim the lawn very low and also create bald patches, your aiming to create a 50% area of bald patches to 50% harshly trimmed grass. Once you have done this sprinkle the seed on the bald patches and then sprinkle soil over. Note! Do not use compost or enriched soil as ideally the seed likes poor soil. Water in with a fine spray so you do not wash the seed around and take any necessary measures to keep cats and birds off. Keep the soil damp in dry summer spells watering as necessary depending on weather and your seedlings should start to appear in roughly a couple of weeks. If sowing late in the year water once and leave them as they will be dormant until the spring.
With regard to the Yellow Rattle the seed will need to be in direct contact with the soil and see 3 months average temperature below 5 degrees to germinate in March. Yellow rattle when it germinates its roots will search out grass roots and latch onto them (it parasitic) and take up to 60% of the nutrients and moisture from the grass making it weak and eventually die back hence its country name meadow maker as it creates patches where wildflowers can grow without being smothered by grass.
If sowing in pots or containers.
Use ideally poor soil with good drainage in the bottom of the pot, do not add any compost or feed. Sprinkle on the seed and then sprinkle a thin layer of soil over, water in and put in a sunny position and water as needed. Your seeds should germinate in about 2 weeks depending on weather. If sown late in the year water once and leave to over winter as the seeds will be dormant until spring.