Planting wild flowers on a slope
If you have a slope in your garden, you might be wondering what to do with it. You could embed rocks in it and have an alpine garden. If it can be accessed by a mower, you could turf it and have a grassy slope to roll down. Or you could take the easy maintenance option by planting wild flowers.
Why plant wild flowers on a slope?
I’ve already mentioned the easy maintenance bit. Much as I love gardening, I do have plenty of other things to do and if I can keep the workload down I will.
I’m also a beekeeper. I love the idea of providing what amounts to a gourmet restaurant right next to my beehives. Because I grow some of the family’s fruit and veg I want to encourage other beneficial wildlife into the garden too – butterflies and bumblebees for pollination, ladybirds for aphid control, frogs to eat the slugs, birds to eat caterpillars and fill my space with birdsong.
Banks of wildflowers outside of the Eden Project in Cornwall. The structures at the top of the hill are gaily painted beehives. Bees are coming and going well above the visitors' heads so as not to cause alarm.
The idea of having a colourful bank of wildflowers and grasses really appeals to me visually. Plus I know that the dense mat of roots will stabilise the slope. I really wouldn’t want a mini-landslide in my garden every time we had heavy rain.
How to establish wildflowers on a slope
If you’re looking to stabilise a slope then always choose perennial wild flowers and grasses. Annuals are great for summer colour but come the winter time there’ll be nothing there to hold the soil in place.
Seed is cheap and cheerful but can be slow to establish. If you want instant coverage, it’s worth investing in a good quality wild flower turf like Meadowmat.
Prepare the soil well before adding any plants. Wild flowers like low nutrient soil and plenty of it. If there isn’t much soil on your slope either import some or consider growing sedum matting rather than wild flowers. Sedums are great for pollinating insects and very easy to maintain but they do need lots of sunshine.
Slopes being made ready to recieve Meadowmat wild flower turf. This is a project in Essex being carried out by Holland Landscapes
For wild flowers, the soil needs to be 10-15cm deep and raked to a nice tilth. Sprinkle with the hose or a watering can before you start so that the soil is moist but not sodden.
Simply sit your roll of wild flower turf at the bottom of the bank and slowly roll it upwards. Press it down firmly so that it has good contact with the soil. Peg it down as you go (if you want to, you can take the pegs out once the roots have established). On a very large slope, I’d be inclined to lay the wild flower turf horizontally in bands across the bank.
Avoid walking on prepared soil or on your wildflower turf. If you need to step on it, use laying boards to spread your weight.
Once you’ve finished, water it well. You’ll need to water every day for the first fortnight or so and then every other day for the next two weeks. It’s vital that you get the water to soak through the wild flower turf and into the soil below. This can be tricky on a slope – so be vigilant. Using a sprinkler attachment on your hose or watering can will help.
More about wild flower gardening
How to lay Meadowmat wild flower turf (scroll down to the bottom of this page to watch the video)