With wildlife gardening currently so popular, and many people asking about wildflower meadows and whether they should convert a section of their lawn to a meadow, we thought it might be helpful to provide a summary of the pros and cons of wildflower meadows, to help you make up your own mind about them.
On the plus side
1· Once established, wildflower meadows need a lot less work than a traditional lawn. For example, you don’t have to mow wildflower meadows every week during the summer. In fact, you only have to cut them once a year, and you can use a strimmer. So you don’t even need to own a mower!
2· Wildflower meadows are a real boon to pollinating insects. And where you encourage pollinating insects, you will encourage birds that feed on them. So a wildflower meadow, even a small one, will be great for the local wildlife, and you will be doing your bit to ‘Give a Home to Nature’.
3· Perennial meadow species don’t even like fertile soil, so having a wildflower meadow is a really good choice if your soil is thin and infertile, and not very good for traditional lawn turf. Meadows are also more drought-resistant than turf.
4· Some turf suppliers can even sell you ready-made wildflower meadow turf: just unroll it and lay it as you would traditional turf, and away you go!
On the down side
1· Perennial wildflower meadows can look a bit messy compared with a traditional lawn. Because the grass can get quite long, they’re not exactly places to sit in a deckchair and admire your manicured garden! So if you want that kind of garden, look away now.
2· You really need quite a lot of space for a wildflower meadow. If your chosen area is too small, the plants will constantly be seeding outside your meadow area, and you will be getting cross about having ‘weeds’ elsewhere!
3· Although it’s technically quite easy to sow a wildflower meadow, it can be quite difficult to get one established. Even if all the flowers grow in the first year or two, the grasses tend to take over if unsuppressed. And it’s not entirely trivial to get the flowers to grow either: many gardeners have ended up concluding that bindweed and nettles also count as native wildflowers in order to justify their constant presence in the new meadow! Lawn turf, on the other hand, is readily available to buy from turf suppliers, and can be replaced if necessary.
Wildflower meadows clearly have some big advantages, but also some downsides. Whether you want to have a go at establishing one, or whether you stick to traditional lawns, is up to you!