Frequently Asked Questions

If you're new to meadows, or indeed even if you're not, you might have plenty of questions about how to get the best from them. We've gathered some of the most frequent questions we hear, along with their answers, below.
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Annual Meadow FAQs

Can I sow my seeds over existing grass?
No, grass will prevent your seeds from growing, you need to prepare a clean weed-free seed bed.
How early and how late can I safely sow annual seeds?
The best month is April but you can sow early in March as long as the ground feels workable and as late as early June.
Does the sowing time have an impact on the length of the flowering time?
Every year is different. In general though early sowings will mean your meadow will come into flower earlier. If the summer is very hot and dry they may finish earlier.
Do I need to irrigate?
No, but it’s really important to roll or firm the seeds into the ground so the seedlings get enough moisture. The seeds will germinate readily as soon as the soil is warm and moist enough.
It looks like I just have a blanket of weeds, is there anything I can do?
Unfortunately this sometimes happens, but don’t panic. Wait until your weeds are about 150 mm (6 inches) tall and run your mower over the whole area on the highest cut. This checks the weeds and allows the slower growing meadow to come through.
My display has been looking great, but in the recent really hot and dry weather the display is starting to go over. Is there anything that I can do?
Most years the displays carry on with later taller flowers masking the shorter earlier ones. Sometimes it’s just a question of giving nature a little bit more time. Even if the later flowers are less showy they will still have a lot of sparkle. If really looking tatty you can give them the ‘Chelsea chop’ which is a very high cut to knock off the seeding flower heads and stimulate a 2nd flush of growth and flowers.
What effect will the fertility of my soil have on the display?
Annual meadows thrive on normal to high fertility soils making them perfect solutions for most gardens and parks. The richer the soil though the taller and bushier the plants will be and the thinner and poorer, the opposite will happen. Normally if you grow annual meadows on the same patch of ground for more than 3 years you will see the fertility start to decrease and the emerging meadows look finer and shorter. If you suspect that the soil is very rich then it’s probably best to reduce the sowing rate a little. Equally if it’s very poor either just enjoy the daintier display or increase the sowing rate a little.
Do I need to protect the seed from birds, mice or squirrels?
No. We have sown meadows in areas that were afterwards visited by big flocks of birds and in areas where mice and squirrels were particularly happy and so were our meadows in the end.
If I’ve sown an annual meadow one year will it regrow the next year?
No, not really. Many species won’t reseed at all. Some species will but in a much more random and patchy way. If you have a fairly infertile soil though or you have experienced very little weed infestation you can get some lovely 2nd and 3rd year displays taking place from the few species that do reseed.
What happens if I sow less or more than the recommended rate?
It’s best to stick to the 2 to 3 grams a metre rule as that’s how we’ve formulated the meadow designs but don’t worry too much either way. 3 grams and you will get a thicker, more boisterous display. It will probably look amazing early on but be a bit too competitive for a fantastic late display. Exactly the opposite if you’ve gone down to 1 gram. It might look very sparse to start with but often this is compensated by each individual plant growing much bigger and some amazing late season meadows.
Can I mix the annual seed with grass to make it go further?
No. Grass is very competitive and will quickly dominate. If you want to make the mix go further you are better to decrease the sowing rate – but keep the edges close to the paths at the normal rate if you can.
Can I mix the annual seed with perennial seed?
No. If you are trying to establish a proper perennial meadow then do not put annual seeds with the mix. Annuals will very quickly out compete the slower perennials and create bare patches later in the season which will encourage weed infestation. If you want a hybrid mix that is very easy to establish and will flower happily for 2-3 years or more use our ‘Magic Carpet’ mix.
Can I sow an annual meadow in the Autumn?
Yes, but it is not advised as you can expect to lose most if not all of the new seedlings during the winter. The remaining un-germinated seeds will grow earlier in spring and will provide a sparser display in the spring and summer.

Perennial Meadow FAQs

Can I sow my seeds over existing grass?
No, grass will prevent your seeds from growing, you need to prepare a clean weed-free seed bed.
How early and how late can I safely sow perennial seeds?
Unlike annuals you can sow perennial seeds at all times of the year as long as the ground feels workable. The best results though are achieved through late autumn sowing.
Does the sowing time have an impact on how quickly I will have a flowering meadow?
Not really. Autumn and winter sowing is beneficial because it provides an important chilling period that in turn helps a greater number of seeds to germinate in the spring. Whatever the sowing time though vigorous establishment growth won’t happen until the soil really starts to warm up, normally from April onwards. Spring through to summer sowing can give you rapid germination as long as the soil is warm and moist but a greater percentage of seed may still remain dormant until autumn or even the following spring. In general though, whatever the sowing time you should start to enjoy some colour by late summer.
Do I need to irrigate?
Yes, irrigation can make a big difference to perennial meadow success. The critical period is late spring through to mid summer whilst the bulk of the young seedlings are emerging. Once you can see a good range of species establishing and the ground is starting to look more green than brown irrigation can stop.
You suggest sowing perennial seed onto a sterile mulch – is this really necessary?
No, but it can make a very significant difference to the success of your perennial meadow. In the first year the greatest cause of failure is competition from young weeds including grasses. However well you have prepared your site the seed bank in the soil can still contain millions of weed seeds. Perennial meadow seeds germinate slowly over a period of time. On non mulched sites this allows the weed seeds in the soil to gain a competitive advantage quickly swamping the slower perennials. Mulching reduces this very significantly although it still doesn’t stop weed seeds from blowing in.
You suggest at least one early summer establishment cut in year one – is this really necessary?
No, but again it can make a very significant difference to the success, especially the species diversity of your perennial meadow. Every species in your mix needs a slightly different set of triggers that allow it to germinate and grow. We formulate the mix carefully to encourage the greatest range of species to all thrive together but it is necessary to check the faster and bushier ones to allow slower and finer ones to get a foothold. At the same time any open soil is likely to start getting colonised by invading weed seeds. Left unchecked, faster growing perennials and aggressive weeds will gain a competitive advantage quickly swamping out others. An establishment cut checks any invading annual weeds and stops the faster growing or emerging perennials from dominating. Essential light and water reaches the slower growing species and allows them to catch up. It also encourages basal shooting which in turn helps to close out bare ground. Once you get to the end of the first growing season and there is a good range of species present they are all remarkably resilient but really do need this initial helping hand.
What effect will the fertility of my soil have on the display?
Most of the Pictorial Meadows mixes have been specially designed to perform on normal to high fertility soils making them perfect solutions for most gardens and parks. The richer the soil though the taller and bushier the plants will be especially in year one. The thinner and poorer the soil the opposite will happen. It is best to select a mix to start with that best sits your soil and then to sustain the annual cut and collect. After a few years even on the most fertile soils you will see the composition and structure changing as fertility start to decrease and the emerging meadows look finer and shorter.
Do I need to protect the seed from birds, mice or squirrels?
No. We have sown meadows in areas that were afterwards visited by big flocks of birds and in areas where mice and squirrels were particularly happy and so were our meadows in the end.
Will my meadow look exactly like it does in the pictures I have seen?
No, even though the mix recipe will be the same, everyone’s meadow will develop its own unique characteristics and these will continue to change throughout the year, and year to year.
What happens if I sow less or more than the recommended rate?
It’s best to stick to the 2 grams a metre rule as that’s how we’ve formulated the meadow designs. Do not under sow a perennial meadow as you wont get the all important number of species to grow and cover the ground. If in doubt its always better to over sow a perennial meadow than under sow.
Can I mix the perennial seed with grass to make it go further?
No. Grass is very competitive and will quickly dominate.
Can I mix annual seed with perennial seed?
No. If you are trying to establish a proper perennial meadow then do not put annual seeds with the mix. Annuals will very quickly out compete the slower perennials and create bare patches in the sward later in the season which will encourage weed infestation. If you want a hybrid mix that is very easy to establish and will flower happily for 2-3 years or more use our Magic Carpet’ mix.

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