Miranda opts for a wildlife-friendly lawn in Leeds

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I’m really pleased to be able to share these pictures of Meadowmat wild flower turf being installed in a private garden in Leeds.

This isn’t a huge corporate project, neither is it a high-end landscaping project.  This is one person, doing what she can for the wildlife in her garden.

 Newly installed wildflower meadow turf

The newly installed wild flower meadow turf sits beautifully beside more conventional planting

 

Using wild flowers to create a self-supporting ecosystem

I asked Miranda about the reason for this project.  She told me “My garden is not entirely wild or native, however, I am trying to establish a garden that provides food and habitat for wildlife in and of itself, rather than putting out food bought in shops.  I used to do this but it’s easy to forget to fill up the feeders, clean them etc.  This is why I chose Meadowmat’s Birds and Bees mix.  I also like the idea that it lasts late into the winter.”

Miranda told me that in the past, she had tried sowing wildflower seeds but in never worked.  The seeds never really germinated or established properly and grasses and deep-rooted perennials took over.  She found Meadowmat on the internet and thought that the pre-grown mats would have a much better chance of becoming established than seeds.  Plus, she felt that using a dense mat of plants would out-face competition from nearby plants.

A long chat with Chris Carr at Harrowden Turf reassured her that she was making the right choice and answered all of the questions she had about soil type, installation and establishment.

Installing Meadowmat in place of an existing lawn

The area Miranda chose to renovate was an existing lawn.  She wasn’t happy with the quality of it – it was full of moss, weeds, dandelions and weak looking grass and was ready to be refreshed.

Her first job was to dig out all of the existing vegetation and soil and replace it with low nutrient soil.

Removing rich soil before installing wildflower turf

The "good" topsoil has been dug out and taken away so that low nutrient soil can be imported.
(the green pipe you can see  is the TV cable)

“I isolated to area to be planted with an edging of brick and stone.  This area was of sufficient depth to contain the required 150mm of low nutrient soil.  I had dug out all the good quality topsoil from the area to a natural level below of clay and sandstone shale.  This was an average depth of 200mm.” 

“I used a mixture of crushed brick, ballast and limestone crusher to bulk it out, but this was only about a 20cm depth, if that.  So I probably have about 180mm average depth of low nutrient soil.  I didn’t want the soil from the surrounding area to “contaminate” the meadow area as Chris had told me that the roots of the grasses would seek out high nutrient soil and then dominate over the flowers, so that determined how much to dig out and also the need to provide a deep enough edging on all four sides.”

low nutrient soil prepared for wild flower turf

Rich garden soil has been replaced with low nutrient soil.  This has been levelled and raked and is ready to have Meadowmat wild flower mat installed upon it.

Using low nutrient soil is crucial when establishing wild flowers.  Unfortunately it does add to the cost of the project, the cost pales into insignificance in relation to the disappointment of a wildflower area that fails to meet expectations….so well done to Miranda for doing the job properly.

newly laid meadowmat

A couple of tips from Miranda’s experience of laying Meadowmat.

  1. The 2m x 1m rolls of mat are heavy.  They definitely need two people to lift them (I heard a professional landscaper say exactly the same thing only last week – so be prepared.)  Miranda and her helper used a strong strap to make lifting and manoeuvring easier.
  2. Be vigilant with watering.  Miranda used a hand-help hose to water in her Meadowmat but on checking the next day, found that the water hadn’t penetrated the dense matting and the soil beneath it was still dry.  She invested in a sprinker and spent longer watering it each night.
  3. The video on the website was great but It helped enormously to talk to the supplier and ask lots of questions.  Chris was approachable, patient, and only too happy to share information.

What did the project cost?

The entire project cost £660.  As well as the Meadowmat and the Low Nutrient Soil; That included sand and cement for the brickwork edging (the bricks were recycled from another part of the garden); A skip to take away the excess soil and some labour to help with the digging and the heavy lifting. (prices correct as of July 2016)

One week after installation

young wild flower meadow

Miranda's mini-meadow, one week after installation.

Meadowmat for birds and bees

Meadowmat for Birds and Bees approximately one year after installation – what Miranda can look forward to.  This wildflower border in Norfolk was photographed in July 2016 and you can see that the red campions and the teasels are positively thriving.

 

More about Meadowmat for Birds and Bees


How to install Meadowmat

 

Gardening for wildlife

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