Mini Meadow Campaign Launched By Nidderdale AONB
All Photos David Tolcher
The team at Nidderdale AONB has produced a step-by-step guide to encourage people to create their own mini meadow.
Inspired by Plant Life’s No Mow May challenge, which encourages gardeners not to mow their lawns throughout the month of May, the guide outlines the Do’s and Don’ts to get a mini meadow project started.
How to Create Your Own Mini Meadow
Key things to look for when picking your mini meadow area:
A square metre area of grassland at the minimum
A sunny spot, ideally getting sun throughout the day
An area that hasn’t been recently re-turfed or treated with chemicals or fertilizer
Added Bonus! – an area that you think already has a diversity of plants
Enjoy it! Meadows are great, for us and our local wildlife.
Let it grow. Species grow at different times, give your meadow a chance to show you what it’s made of.
Keep an eye out for different plants growing in your mini meadow. Don’t know what you’re looking at? Get in touch with us, we can help you ID mystery plants.
Goes without saying, mowing or cutting back the meadow won’t help it grow.
Please don’t put fertilizer on it - find out what species thrive naturally in your garden.
Don’t be disheartened if your mini meadow site doesn’t include a huge array of species. Long grass is a good habitat for your resident garden insects, and you could always add some native wildflower seed this autumn. There are ten times more insect species and 50 times more insect individuals in long grass than grass that's mown once a week.
Kelly Harmer, Biodiversity Officer at Nidderdale AONB, said: “Creating your own mini meadow is actually quite easy, because the less you do, the better. Lockdown saw many of us with gardens become more aware of their value for our own wellbeing, and there are incredible benefits for our wildlife just in letting a patch of lawn grow. The humble garden lawn can be home to an astonishing diversity of wild flowers, and a mini meadow can boost nectar for more bees and other pollinators.”
According to Plant Life, the top three most abundant lawn flowers are daisy, white clover and selfheal. Every Flower Counts found that 80% of lawns supported the equivalent of around 400 bees a day from the nectar sugar produced by common flowers, such as dandelion.
To help pollinators, it’s best to leave patches of lawn completely unmown, with the general garden kept at one to two inches with monthly mowing.
Mowing actually helps flowers come back quicker. The ideal is to have what’s been compared to a Mohican hair cut for your lawn – with a monthly cut, and an area set aside for your mini meadow and longer grass for floral diversity.
Kelly added: “It’s not just pollinators who will enjoy a mini meadow, as we humans have discovered a renewed appreciation for nature in the national lockdowns. Those lucky enough to have gardens can enjoy the diverse and beautiful flowers a mini meadow brings, and that
summer buzz of bees.”
Mini-meadows are not the same as traditional wildflower meadows, which have drastically declined with more than 97% of wildflower rich British meadows destroyed in the last century.
The AONB began a meadow project in Nidderdale several years ago with local landowners to help revive traditional meadows. One example is a meadow in Pateley Bridge that was sown with locally harvested donor seed in 2016.
Nationally, there has been something of a ‘meadow movement’ from UK charities and environmentalists. As meadows offer up to 40 plant species per square metre, they support a hive of invertebrates, as well as birds, reptiles and small mammals, as well as carbon storage.
Nidderdale AONB is keen to create wildlife corridors, connecting meadows across the landscape, to help wildlife facing a wider climate crisis.
Kelly said: “True Dale meadow restoration is a journey that takes many years. Our 2020 survey of the Pateley Bridge meadow found 45 separate plant species, which is encouragingly high. It’s now an ideal donor field and could provide seeds for other restoration sites in the future.”
Gardeners are being asked to share their mini meadow photos on the Nidderdale AONB’s Facebook page @NiddAONB and Twitter @NidderdaleAONB.