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Page 7When to Cut 

Wildflower Growers Manual


A meadow must be cut once per year unless you have chosen a product that is in deep shade, or a product intended to feed birds, or a no cut mixture designed to grow tall and out compete with grasses and other weeds. 

A meadow is cut any time between June and October mostly in August/September.

A lawn mower will keep a meadow topped but rarely or safely cut a meadow down. Use a grass hook or a sickle, a scythe, brush harvester, strimmer.  bill hook. mowing bar, combine, tractor, gang or flair mower or any other suitable machinery.

Modern finger bar mowers are ideal and recommended, all be they costly. Vintage mowing bars can be troublesome.

There are many ways to cut a meadow: what ever you choose, Always remove the cuttings, rake them up and then rake over the bare soil to scratch the soil to help new seedlings germinate. 

We recommended this extra raking to 'allow in' ultra violet sunlight  to sterilize the soil and kill moulds, and to make space for new seedlings and provide fewer places for slugs to hide. Decaying vegetation causes mould which effects new seedlings. The fresh air can then blow over the germinating seedlings, however wildflower seeds grow best in a meadow that is warm and sheltered at the soil surface, ideal germination conditions, after all, many are perennials, and .
The additional raking/scratching helps recently 'shed' seed from your meadow to contact the soil. Wild flowers shed new seeds every year. Its this process of cutting and raking renews a meadow, this work replaces hay cutting and 'animals grazing the after growth', which was how meadows got started in the first place.

An Irish wildflower growers job is to ensure that new seedling become established every year.

Meadows can be topped with a lawnmower, instead of cut, as if done often there is no volume to foliage, but please do it regularly or else they get out of hand and impossible to cut with mower. 

"In my younger days i did cut a meadow with a mower, it took for ever."


Wildflower Seed Mixtures By Height or by Cutting Regime

Any Meadow Can be topped  to 10cm by July, will flower again in same year | A meadow left uncut must be cut the following spring
Grassy meadows Top or cut to 10cm any grassy meadow where the grass out-grows the wildflowers, once the grass gets checked', the flora will grow through. In time the fertility will reduce
Short Cut meadow Short Cut Meadows = Cut/top 2, 3 or 4 times per year to 10cm, to delay flowering until summer can be cut again in Autumn 
Medium Height meadow Medium Height Meadows = Top in spring by May and cut in July August 
Tall Meadow Tall Meadows = Cut in Autumn or spring to allow winter seed heads for birds
Spring Flowering Spring Flowering Meadows, can be cut in June, even if summer flowers have started
Summer Flowering Summer Meadows, should be cut between late June to July and Topped in Autimn
Autumn Flowering Autumn Meadows = Can be topped in spring or early summer and cut in late September or Autumn or following Spring
No Cut No Cut -  Tall Meadows = Try Cut them occasionally, if on rich soil
Woodland No Cutting Required, aim to remove infestations of Bramble and Ivy
Wetland Wet soil can be difficult to get on to to cut, so in the early years cut when ever you can, even in Summer
Stitched or Over-sown meadows, includes plugs Sow growers will sow or plant plugs into existing grassy swards, in the first and sometimes second year top these to allow seeds to grow, do not allow grass to smother the meadow


Early Year 1 to 3 Establishment and Maintenance  

Seedling establishment phase When you first sow a meadow, seedlings will keep on germinating each spring and autumn until about the second or third year. This is when maintenance is required, after the meadow is established your job is to manage it with one cut per year, some customers on fertile soil have to  wait up to seven years for fertility to drop, and must maintain it fully as if in years two to three.

Correct timing when cutting the meadow is crucial to the survival of seedlings.  
A meadow is won or lost at this stage. If your original cultivation methods did not produce a clean weed-free seedbed, this is your last chance to get rid of stones and weeds that you have missed. 
During this stage it is vital that you cut and remove the growth of grasses & flowers, each autumn. Cutting the growth away allows the sun to warm the soil and for fresh air to circulate over the tiny seedlings. If the grass is left uncut, mould will grow and kill off the tiny seedlings. Remove the dead layer of thatch at the base of grasses. Use a rake, a spring tine rake, a rotavator set high with only a few light passes to scratch the soil, or drag a chaim, chain harrow or harrow over the surface to scratch it.

For dry areas roll the seed bed when there is no sign of germination, it helps to break the soil surface, (Must be dry). 

On large dry areas roll with any roller  if the soil is dry crusted. but try use a Cambridge type ridged roller it is at all damp. 

Any meadow can be cut every 30-60 days to keep tidy as a lawn. (topping)  

On infertile sites cutting may not be necessary, except once in the autumn. 

On very barren sites you may not have to cut at all, instead roll with a Cambridge roller.

The seedling establishment stage must be maintained during the first year and may need to continue into the 2nd and 3rd year on fertile sites. See also 'Gap creation'.

Meadow cutting times in the 'first and second year' both 'with' and 'with out grass'. 

Meadow cutting times 'without grass'

Most annuals and pure wildflowers sown 'without grass' need only be cut when flowers fade in autumn. For 'non-grass' mixtures of pure wildflowers, cut and remove if growth passes a height of 25-35 cm by mid June as the meadow is growing too fast. Cut again in August or when annual flowers finish.

Spring flowering wetland meadows can be cut in late May to restrict Creeping Buttercup setting seed.

Meadow cutting times 'with grass'

In the first year for meadows sown 'with grass' always cut by the end of July if not sooner. 
All floras sown with grass and without annuals must be regularly cut and the grass removed when growth passes a height of 15-25cm in the first year. Cut down to 2"-4". 

The grass must not 'lodge' (fall over). On fertile sites where grass seed is mixed in wildflower mixtures from 2, 3, 4, - 6 cuts per year may be required to reduce fertility during the seedling establishment phase. top the grass and remove it if you can, failing that dont leave clumps about, and the meadows last cut per year, will require, a full clean up, remove all dead grass and rake up, remove the fertility in cutting the grass away. Allow those tiny seedlings a fighting chance and our mixture will perform far better.

Special Cutting Times to attract wildlife or encourage specific plant species

Some wildflower meadows are recommended as requires special cutting times. This advice is given to encourage specific flowers, flora types or to attract wildlife. Where such advice is given, if the wildflower grower seeks to follow our instructions, it is hoped that the result will be rewarding. We have established many wonderful floras for customers, keep at it until it becomes fully established, send us photos please.

Typical Specific cutting times may include, advice such as: "Dear Customer. Cut in High Summer when meadow is in full flower, Why? because in your photo i can see spring flowers such as Cowslip, Ragged Robin and Red Campion and late summer seedlings of flowering species such as Fleabane and Devil's Bit Scabious.  So please cut it early, as the meadow would only grow grassy if left uncut. As along with the creeping buttercup I can see a lot of wild grass seedlings. So the advice given is to cut the meadow which may well be flowering or about too in late May,  after the Red Campion or other spring flowers finish blooming and have set seed.  The cut will only knock back the summer flowers especially the dog daisy and rearrange the meadow for a later summer or High Summer bloom, which will allow the later flowering species mentioned about to grow and set seed." 

sicklebar mower

Cutting Machinery Use a strimmer with blade attachment or a finger / sickle bar mower ( lawn mower Type) Use scythes, shears, tractor mowers, finger mowers, flail mowers, disc cutters, mowing bars 


There are far too many variations of advice, so all I can say is read the specifications and advice supplied with every seed mixture


We remove all dead grass because it rots down and make soil more fertile. Bare soil and allows ultra violet sun light to sterilise the soil, so that new seedlings grow in mould free environment.  Sunlight discourages slugs and slug eggs and having little decaying/dead thatch allows birds to scratch the soil.

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