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Meadow Management

The main task in managing your new meadow is keeping fertility down. A low fertility, low nutrient soil is perfect for wildflowers, as it means that grasses and invasive species can't dominate.

The traditional approach to meadow management, used for centuries, included:

  • Hay cut - late summer

  • Aftermath grazing by sheep or cattle - autumn

  • Grazing in spring

This method is ideal for biodiversity as it controls fertility with hay removed annually. The grazing also helps to keep grass down, reducing its vigour and preventing it from overshadowing wildflowers. Grazing in autumn and winter also provides the soil disturbance needed for germination of new plants and species.

This method isn't practical or possible for many projects for various reasons, but we can still use it as a guide, trying to match the core principles as closely as possible - as follows:


A meadow may just need one grass cut each year (the first listed below). If the meadow was created on a high fertility or grassland site, then all three cuts are recommended:

  1. Summer (Mid-July - September) - The later the better for the flowers, as they need time to reseed, which for many plants doesn't happen until August/September. Ideally the cuttings will be left for a few days to allow seeds to drop from their heads.

  2. Autumn (October) - If the Summer cut happens earlier (e.g. July/August), there will be more regrowth of grass. This should be removed in Autumn.

  3. Spring (March/April) - A Spring cut will clear any grass growth since the previous cut, reducing competition from grasses.

The last two cuts will be more necessary if sowing into grassland or high fertility farmland. Grass will out-compete and overshadow wildflowers if not cut. 

Notes for all cuts:

  • All cuttings must be removed to reduce fertility in the soil.

  • Summer growth will be tall, so should be done with strimmer/scythe or tractor machinery for larger areas.. 

  • Autumn/Spring cuts will be lower so a ride-on or regular mower on its highest setting would be fine.  

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