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Have a field day; It's easy to turn a lawn into meadow.

FOR splashes of stunning colour that will give a boost to wildlife, set aside part of your garden to wildflowers.

Flowering meadow patches and borders are great fun. Plus they are low maintenance and cheap. Seeds will germinate quickly and can fill an empty plot in just a few months.

I've even known people convert lawns into wildflower meadows.

A meadow is easier to maintain than a lawn. But it's not just a case of letting the grass grow.

First, stop applying fertiliser. Most perennial wildflowers require impoverished soil. Too rich and you get lots of leaves and few flowers.

Then mow the grass every week to weaken it. When autumn arrives, choose a damp day and sow wildflower seeds over the top of short grass.

You can buy ready-made wildflower mixes for different soil types. It's worth looking for a mix of annual and perennial to prolong flowering time. Or you can also buy the seeds separately and mix them yourself. If you do, add sand so you can see clearly where you are sowing as you go.

Germinating Scatter by hand, rake in lightly and water thoroughly. If you are worried about birds, put netting on the top.

Make sure the soil remains moist and warm while they are germinating. A single blisteringly hot weekend will stop them in their tracks.

It may take time for seeds to establish in the grass, so you can introduce stronger plug plants too. For starters I'd recommend yellow rattle. It's a striking-looking wildflower that kills off grass plants.

Other popular varieties include common sorrel, bird's-foot trefoil, borage and sainfoin. Dwarf sunflowers will encourage pollinating insects.

Deadhead the flowers to prolong flowering. Leave the plants to selfseed at the end of the growing season - they should return next year.

Clear away the old plants in spring to provide the new ones with more light. Also, keep on top of weeds to stop them taking over.

You may need to sow more seeds for the first few years. But after that they should come back every year with no extra work from you.

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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jun 21, 2015
Previous Article:How to... Grow plants without [...]; Gardening.
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