Acres of beautiful wildflowers, their lovely heads bouncing with the wind. Little girls in long sun dresses with streamers billowing off wide brimmed hats running and laughing through the colorful expanse. Butterflies and bees happily flitting from flower to flower.
These are a few of the images that many people see when they think of a wildflower meadow. It seems like something that should arise naturally, and it often does in certain locations. However, you can create your own wildflower meadow with some initial effort and a small amount of maintenance by following these steps.
Location is the most important factor for a successful wildflower meadow. The more overgrown the area currently is, the harder it will be to turn it into a lush wildflower paradise. Ideally the area should be a cultivated field or expanse of lawn. These will have minimal established weeds. Situate the meadow away from weeded areas and formal gardens. Wildflower meadows look best in large areas, an acre is ideal, but they can be worked into smaller locations as well.
When it comes to attracting wildlife into your garden, even a tiny wildflower meadow space is better than none at all. Birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures will thank you for it.
Your first priority is to kill the weeds that are currently growing or have seeded in the meadow. Try to stay away from chemical weed killer, but if you must use it, make sure it will quickly break-down. The best natural method to kill weeds is to “cook” them.
First till the soil to break up and expose weed roots. Cover the tilled soil with clear or black plastic sheeting, securing it in place for several weeks. The soil temperature will reach up to 140 degrees, effectively destroying weeds, roots and seeds.
Once the weeds are destroyed, remove their remains. Mulch and till the soil. Sow immediately.
Wildflower mixtures are available at many garden centers, but choose a high-quality mix of both annuals and perennials. The best wildflowers will be native to your region and hardy in your climate conditions. Annuals will provide blooms the first year, and may reseed for later years. Perennials will take a few years to establish and bloom, but they will return each year indefinitely.
Once the soil is prepared and ready, pick a seasonal time that is ideal depending upon your climate. If you are in a location with little or no freezing winter weather, you should sow your seeds in the late fall or early winter. If you typically have hard freezes, then sow your seeds in early spring. Perennial seeds can be sown in early fall, but allow several weeks before a hard freeze.
The first year you will have to keep unwanted weeds from growing and taking over your wildflowers. Everything you do to make flowers grow will also encourage weeds. Dig them up or at least cut them off before they go to seed. Go through your meadow every few days and tackle weeds before they can take hold. Once your wildflowers are established, the weed control will be much easier.
Water during seasons of drought, but otherwise your wildflowers will do best with what nature provides.
Mow down your wildflower bed in very early spring or mid-winter, depending upon your location. This allows room for the plants to grow back and still helps to prevent weed seeds from finding their way to a patch of soil.
Growing your own wildflower meadow is a rewarding effort, which will provide large expanses of beautiful wildflowers for years to come.