Transforming your outdoor space from a green desert to a bustling oasis of wildflowers is relatively straightforward to achieve, and the change you make has a significant impact on the environment surrounding you. The focus is shifting away from traditional garden flowers toward pollinator-friendly blooms with medicinal properties, such as echinacea and plantain. Your wildflower lawn will serve as a haven for all types of small wildlife species, as well as provide a diverse array of colours, sizes, textures, and scents to enjoy. A wildflower lawn can transform the quality of your soil and may even be the solution you’ve been searching for if you are struggling with an existing area of a garden that is lacking in nutrients or too large to maintain.
Whatever your motivation, the benefits of a wildflower lawn go above and beyond what a conventionally manicured lawn can offer you and the natural world around you.
1. Wildflower Lawns Attract Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects
Wildflower lawns support and feed a diverse range of pollinators, which is critical because built-up environments with manicured lawns are incapable of supporting their lifecycle. Agriculture would suffer greatly if pollinators were not present. The variety of wildflowers in your backyard will offer a wide variety of pollen, attracting bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, to name a few.
Wildflower lawns attract pollinators that are beneficial to plants and people alike.
2. Wildflower Lawns Protect Biodiversity
Creating a wildflower lawn will provide a safe and nurturing environment for all types of wildlife. For example, birds can collect nesting materials and seeds, ladybugs and spiders can happily feed on invertebrates, and even amphibians benefit from resting in the cool spaces under leaves.
By establishing a diverse wildflower lawn, you can provide butterflies with an endless supply of nectar.
3. Wildflower Lawns are Sustainable
Regular watering, fertilisation, and painstaking upkeep are necessary for manicured lawns to keep their tidy appearance. Lawns with wildflowers don’t require much watering or any harmful chemicals to thrive. In fact, wildflower lawns benefit the environment by enhancing the soil’s quality (their deep roots bring nutrient-rich soil to the surface) and the air’s quality (they produce more oxygen and break down carbon dioxide quicker).
Wildflower lawns are a resilient landscape choice that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution.
4. Wildflower Lawns are Low Maintenance
Many gardeners quickly discover that wildflower lawns are less expensive in the long run because they require less ongoing maintenance. As with any outdoor project, there is work initially. However, once they have been planted, they require very little upkeep. Once established, wildflowers take care of themselves, requiring little assistance from you. You only need to scythe your wildflower lawn two or three times a year to keep it happy and looking its best.
A scythe is a farming implement with a long, slightly curved blade, ideal for cutting wildflower lawns.
5. Wildflower Lawns Increase your Mental Wellbeing
Wildflower lawns bring a sense of peace and quiet to your backyard, increasing your mental wellbeing. This can be a wonderful place to meditate, ground yourself, observe the wildlife in action, or just take in the beauty of the many scents and hues your native flowers have to offer.
A new study suggests that viewing a flower has immediate, positive psychological effects.
6. Wildflower Lawns Provide Opportunities for Education
Wildflower lawns, which are known to be rich in biodiversity, can provide you and, if you have children, your children with opportunities for hands-on learning. Learn how to identify plants and animals, build a bug hotel or feed your artistic creativity with the shapes, sizes, and colours offered.
Is a Wildflower Lawn for Everyone?
Although the benefits of a wildflower lawn are incredible, some spaces may not be suitable. Wildflowers may not be the best choice for properties with limited space because they can grow tall, making it difficult to use lawn furniture, etc. Due to their nature, wildflowers may appear weedy and untidy in contrast to the manicured lawns that may be around you.
Your neighbours, landlord, or homeowners association might not fully understand what you’re trying to accomplish by cultivating your sustainable, biodiverse wildflower lawn. If you can persuade them of the benefits of a wildflower lawn, you’ll be able to create a booming wildlife haven without raising any eyebrows in your community.
Wildflower lawns may appear unkempt and wild to those unaware of their benefits.
How to Grow a Wildflower Lawn
Wildflowers are resilient species that can grow almost anywhere. With some thought and planning you’ll soon be reaping the rewards they have to offer.
Preparing Your Space for a Wildflower Lawn
While wildflower lawns are incredibly low maintenance, there is some initial preparation before you can establish one from scratch. It is not necessary to completely eradicate your existing grass lawn; however, the better your lawn is prepared before seeding your wildflowers, the higher your chances are of cultivating a flourishing wildflower lawn.
Wildflowers are unable to compete with invasive species like dandelions, which consume all the nutrients and available resources. Weeds can eventually harm a wildflower lawn, so it’s better for you to get rid of any that are already present at this point.
Use a plastic tarp to cover the areas of your lawn where you’d like to plant wildflowers. This method is referred to as solarization. This environmentally friendly process will get rid of grass and unwanted species that may be growing in the area using solar energy. This could take a couple of weeks, but is very beneficial in the long run.
There are many wildflower species that can thrive in a variety of soil types. Some actually grow better in poor soil. It is best to stop using any fertilisers long before you plant your wildflower lawn. If your soil is naturally very fertile, dig up the top few inches and move it to your vegetable patch.
Keep in mind that letting low-growing wildflowers, such as clovers, flourish on your lawn can be beneficial.
Selecting Wildflower Seeds and Plants
Seed research will be another step in getting ready for your wildflower lawn. An aspect to keep in mind about wildflowers is that invasive species could also easily flourish in your garden. Ensure that you are bringing in seed blends that contain native species; it is important to do your homework. Since they have adapted to your climate, native wildflowers will not only be easier to grow but will also support pollinators and other beneficial species in your area.
Sowing seeds will take time, and after being planted, the seeds may need some care for them to fully take root in your garden. Even though it might take some time, if you are patient, the process can be very rewarding.
You could purchase wildflower seedlings from your local nursery if you don’t want to wait. It’s important to remember that it’s against the law to dig up wildflowers you find on public property.
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia sp.), Hardy Geranium (Geranium sanguineum), Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and Daisies ( Leucanthemum superbum) are some perennial wildflowers you could consider adding to your wildflower lawn.
A diverse mixture of wildflowers that bloom at various times of the year is what you should strive for. The pollinators will be rewarded with blooms for the most of the year thanks to you.
Maintaining your Wildflower Lawn
Once your garden is established, weeds may still attempt to take over. Initial weeding will assist in preventing this, and the number of weeds should decline. Depending on the size of your wildflower lawn, weeds can be removed by hand. Make sure you pull out the entire root to prevent regrowth. Traditionally, a scythe would be used to cut a wildflower meadow, allowing the wildflower seed heads to freely fall to the ground. If your wildflower lawn is too large to chop by hand, you can use a string trimmer or the mower on its highest setting.
Wildflower lawns are typically trimmed three times a year. To stimulate your wildflower’s growth, cut it in early spring. The “hay cut” occurs in summer, which removes the bulk of the material. When your wildflowers have turned into seed heads in the autumn, cut them again. Be sure to collect seeds for overseeding whenever you notice an imbalance of wildflowers. In the late autumn months, your wildflower lawn will require some additional cleanup, including removing dead stalks and raking debris. This is also the time to cut any wildflowers you want to dry.
This method of care will encourage your wildflowers to return year after year, resulting in a greater variety of wildflower diversity.
For wildflower lawn maintenance in small areas, use garden shears.
A beautiful wildflower lawn can take three to five years to establish; just be patient and persistent. The results will be incredibly rewarding. As development encroaches on natural wildflower meadows, we can do our little part in creating a safe haven for the wildlife around us. Whatever your motivation, a wildflower lawn can benefit you and the world around you too.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.