Relaxing mowing and introducing plug plants can help shift a typical lawn into something closer to a meadow, but you will need to keep working at it. Another and easier approach is to create a cornfield flower patch which looks a bit like a meadow and is flower-rich and is very attractive to pollinators and people alike. They are sown as a grass-free mix into bare garden soil but will need to be weeded and re-sown at the end of every year.
We will be creating pages on this site about lawn, meadow and cornfield patch management, but for now your best source of summary information is Adrian Thomas’s excellent book “Gardening for wildlife”8. Another highly recommended book is James Hewetson-Brown’s “How to make a wildflower meadow”9 which also introduces the new technique of laying wildflower turf.
1. Smith, C., Dawson, D., Archer, J., Davies, M., Frith, M., Hughes, E. and Massini, P., 2011. From green to grey; observed changes in garden vegetation structure in London, 1998-2008, London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, and Greater London Authority.
2. Gaston, K.J., Warren, P.H., Thompson, K. & Smith, R.M. 2005. Urban domestic gardens (IV): the extent of the resource and its associated features. Biodiversity and Conservation 14, 3327-3349. Available here
4. Thompson K., Hodgson J.G., Smith R.M., Warren P.H. and Gaston K.J. 2004. Urban domestic gardens (III): composition and diversity of lawn floras. J. Veg. Sci. 15: 371–376. Available here
5. Gibson, C.W.D., Hambler, C. and Brown, V. K. (1992). Changes in Spider (Araneae) Assemblages in Relation to Succession and Grazing Management. J. Appl. Ecol. 29:132-142 Abstract here
6. Watson CJ, Carignan-Guillemette L, Turcotte C, Maire V, Proulx R. (2020) Ecological and economic benefits of low-intensity urban lawn management. J Appl Ecol. 57:436–446. Abstract here
7. Lerman, S.B., Contosta A.R, Milam, J. and Bang, C. (2018) To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards. Biological Conservation 221: 160-174 Abstract here
8. Thomas, A. (2017) Gardening for Wildlife. Bloomsbury Natural History pp 146-155
9. Hewetson-Brown J. (2016) How to make a wildflower meadow Filbert Press Ltd.
Page written by Steve Head: Reviewed by Ken Thompson