Growing wild flowers to use up lawn space sounds like a brilliant idea right? If you have a big yard, this is a great way to get rid of all that lawn cutting, and they look so beautiful on the seed packages right?
Well, wild flowers do look beautiful but growing wild flowers takes a lot more than you think to look like that picture on the seed package! From personal experience, it takes a couple of seasons to get established before you can basically let it take care of itself.
You can purchase wild flower seeds in small seed packs all the way up to bags of the seeds. But you do need to do some preparation, you can't just throw them out there and hope for the best.
Here is my experience:
We built a house about 8 years ago, in the country, and we didn't want to be cutting masses of lawn, and we thought it was the environmentally friendly thing to do, to take up the turned over ground by growing wild flowers.
We ran out and bought a couple of big bags of the wild flower seeds (these were expensive too!). We then spread them out over the area we did not want to see with grass. We then seeded the area we wanted with lawn, and then hoped for the best.
I had visions of color and lovely flowers. Instead all I got were prickly weeds, thistles and lots of dandelions, and a few straggly flowers! I was truly disappointed. There was germination, but they were so tiny and in that big an area, the weeds just took right over.
So, we just mowed the whole area down, and gave up on growing wild flowers. The grass part grew well, and we resigned ourselves to having to cut this bigger area of lawn, as we did not want to leave it as prickly weeds, thistles and dandelions!
We continued cutting the area along with the lawn all that season, but unknown to us, was the fact that we were actually making this area stronger for the wild flowers! As I was cutting the area again the following spring, I noticed all these different colored bits of grass and stems that were getting wider and wider.. Didn't think much about it, until we failed to cut the yard for a week due to a broken lawn mower.
Then low and behold, there were all these little flower heads in the wild flower area. We were stunned. So we decided that this year we were going to grow wild flowers after all. We sectioned off the area as an experiment, and we watch the wild flowers grow tall. Yes there were still some weeds in there, but mostly tall grasses which added to the growing wild flowers.
We would tread carefully and pull out the noxious weeds, and leave everything else natural. I went to the garden center and talked to a gardener expert, who tells me that growing wild flowers actually can take a few seasons. They do not instantly look like the package, which is a bit misleading.
He then tells me, that by cutting the area with the lawn mower for that first season, gave the growing wild flowers a chance to spread their base and roots. They didn't die, they just put their energies into spreading. The prickly weeds mostly died off because they don't like being cut down.
So, if you want to try growing wild flowers, to maybe take over a area you don't want to cut anymore, or in your flower beds, then you need to allow more than the present season. Some may grow in your flower bed, if you are a dedicated gardener and get the weeds out from between them, but in the beginning they all just look like sprouts from the seeds.
You also should have the area turned up and nourished with compost etc.. Then add your wild flower seeds. Have some patience, and if you do what we did and basically cut down anything that grows that first season you are going to have a bed of wild flowers the next season and so on.
In actual fact, they will go crazy after they get a good foothold, as I am finding them in the regular lawn now.
We simply edged that area and called it our Wild Garden and cut everything else around it until we could see how it turned out. Growing wild flowers was and still is a good decision, just don't be expecting results this minute for a field of them. You can purchase what look like little garden peat carpets with wild flowers infused in it, for edging gardens which looks really nice. But they look their best a few seasons in. As growing wild flowers are like growing perennials, they come back each year.
I even added a couple of perennials into the batch of wild flowers for added color, as may wild flowers are just the same as the perennials you buy at the garden center.
Growing wild flowers, is great if you have a rural property, and also a great way to take up a yard. If you don't want a lawn at all, you can try this and put in a pathway around these wild flower gardens. Just remember that first year you will get your share of prickly weeds and dandelions, that you will need to keep it cut just so you don't scare your neighbors, but bit by bit you won't have to cut it anymore.
So, I started another area for growing wild flowers, and turned up the soil and added some mulch, and then added the seeds, and as much as I hate to run over the plants, I will this year, because next year it will be a stronger wild flower garden that I can let do what ever it wants to do. I just tame the edge to add color to the rest of my yard without taking over.
It is not recommended that you just throw them out in a grassy area, you should prepare the soil to get the best out of growing wild flowers. But your garden will look good for the whole season as there will always be something flowering in there!