Wildflower Turf

12th June 2013

Last week I attended an open day at Wildflower Turf Limited. They are based at Ashe Warren Farm in Overton, Hampshire. The company supplies wildflower turf that uses a unique soil-less system and is guaranteed to give a wildflower meadow a year after installation. Their standard wildflower turf contains 34 UK native wildflower and grass species with a minimum of 50% wildflowers and is suitable for a range of soil types.

The environmental negatives I see for this product are two-fold. Firstly, although the soil-less growing medium is largely made up of composted green waste and organic nutrients, there is still an element of peat used. Ideally, we need to be eliminating our use of peat in horticultural products. In addition, for ease of handling, the soil-less medium is reinforced with plastic mesh which will take decades, or longer, to degrade in the environment. Wildflower Turf is experimenting with degradable meshes, but no satisfactory solution has yet been found.

Wildlfower Turf showing part of plastic mesh within growing medium

However, there are great advantages to having a wildflower turf product that will generate a meadow reliably and quickly. Sowing seed onto bare ground requires much maintenance in subsequent years by way of cutting and removing/treating weeds and it can take as long as 4 years to establish anything that resembles a meadow. Where cost of maintenance is prohibitive or cannot be provided, this product may be a viable alternative.

Established meadow using Wildflower Turf (ranging in age from 1 - 10 years)

The turf mats can be laid within 8 weeks of being sown, although at this stage, plant growth is still quite sparse, but the plants will flower the same year (albeit later than normal) if the mats are sown in early spring.

Wildflower Turf approximately 8 weeks after sowing (sown in early April, photographed 6.6.13)

Managing partner, James Hewetson-Brown, showing root development under turf mat.