If you live in the countryside, ensuring that you have a haven for the local flora and fauna can be very rewarding. It’s important to be patient when managing your meadow, it can take many years to reach full maturity, but it can easily become your favourite part of the garden.
To begin, test the fertility of the soil. In order to encourage wildflowers you may be required to reduce grassy swards, creeping thistle and nettles. Hay containing some yellow rattle can also help reduce the grass strength, allowing you to grow your meadow at a steady and healthy rate.
Simply cut the meadow for hay and remove, mow different paths every year to allow the ground to recover and you should begin to see new species growing through. This happens as the short grass allows them to seed; it can also help encourage butterflies to lay their eggs on the stems. Walking through the grass as you begin to manage the meadow can be full of surprises; you never know what wildflowers could be growing and what wildlife it has already attracted.
Adding a Pond
Another easy way to encourage wildlife into your meadow or garden is to build a pond. After a year or so it will be fully established with grassed edges and may attract the likes of frogs, dragonflies and other wildlife.
When constructing your pond you have the choice of two materials; either a pre-formed shell (normally made from fibreglass) or a flexible liner. A flexible liner allows you to dictate the final shape of the pond, whereas with a pre-formed pond you will find there is a limited amount of designs for you to choose from.
To put the finishing touches to your pond add stones (for safety set the stone on a mortar mix), have a grassed edge or add flowers around the edge. You may also want to use a spare liner that is punctured with holes, as this will help you create a mini bog garden.
Top Tip: Adding pond plants will help keep the water clear and encourage insects and animals.
For Smaller Gardens
You can create the same look in a smaller garden. A great tip for you to incorporate into the garden is to leave the borders and edges of your garden natural to encourage wildlife. You could even add a small water feature instead of building a pond; it will attract dragonflies and encourage birds to stay in your garden as there is a permanent water supply. There are many small changes you can make to your garden that will help you encourage wildlife into your garden; whether it is leaving your borders to grow or adding a bird table to a corner of your garden.
It’s also a great idea to place a piece of garden furniture like a bench or small furniture set to encourage you to use the meadow. Why not grab a copy of Carol Klein’s ‘Grow your own garden’ and find out new ways of working with nature?