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Meadow Grass Maintenance

Meadow Grass Maintenance

Meadow Grass Maintenance

The Summer cut in the first year can be early in mid-July and all cuttings should be removed. Through the rest of the autumn and winter keep the sward short like a lawn through mowing (removing all cuttings) In fact the young meadow should be mown every time the vegetation height reaches 10 to 15 cm. Do not cut the meadow shorter than 5 cm.On a field scale, meadows grazed over autumn or winter tend to be the most successful. If yellow rattle fails to establish in the first year, as it is an annual, re-introduce seed in years 2 and 3, therefore keeping the dominant grasses in check!

Meadow

The decision when to cut your meadow will depend on two factors: the species present and the weather. If there are plants or seed of late flowering species such as betony, devils-bit scabious, field scabious, yarrow or wild marjoram for example you will need to leave the meadow standing until September when these plants shed their seed. If not every year, leave it standing at least 1 in 3 years. This is not a problem if you do not have tough grasses or other perennial weeds threatening to dominate. If so, you could cut the weedy areas earlier and more regularly, whilst leaving the late flowering areas to set seed. In a wet summer, it can be difficult to cut when you would wish to. Compacted ground is detrimental for wildflower meadows so do avoid driving on it in wet conditions. The sward will need to be cut in the autumn and cleared, whatever the weather, as the meadow should be cut at least once a year. Otherwise leaving a thick thatch will be very detrimental to the next season’s flowering species as they will find it difficult to grow through in Spring and will be dominated by grasses and weeds. To encourage the dispersion of seeds once the cuttings have been removed, the area can then be raked to expose some bare earth. If you happen to have a few sheep available Winter grazing would be ideal!

Cut from mid-July to early September. This can be done as one cut but preferably, and if the meadow is big enough, you will cut it in sections leaving a week to a fortnight between cuts. Ensure you collect the arisings. If the meadow is large enough consider allowing up to a fifth to stand uncut through the winter and cut down and remove the clippings in March the following year, this will provide a habitat for invertebrates and some vertebrates over the winter. Rotate this area so a different section is left uncut each year. This more closely replicates the grazing of animals which would leave some small areas not grazed.One of the best and most successful ways for communities to promote biodiversity is by converting part of their grass areas to meadow. Here in the Laois Offaly branch of the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT), we have worked with several community groups to create and manage meadows. We’re happy to share some of our experiences and practical advice here. We have broken this down into four sections: (Source: biodiversityireland.ie)

 

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