Maintenance

However important it may be to start off with the right habitat, for the development and preservation of the desired vegetation appropriate maintenance and management methods are just as essential. The crucial point in the maintenance of flower meadows is mowing and carrying off the hay that is produced. This is absolutely vital not only to preserve the flower meadow, but also to keep it in good condition. A tight mowing schedule is important, especially to restrict the chances of unwanted species. If hay is left on the ground where cut, it does not only make the soil richer but it causes gaps to appear in the vegetation. If, during the pioneer phase, the less attractive, coarse species, which are unattractive especially in small-scale situations, are kept at bay by weeding, one will achieve a visually more refined or stable aspect sooner. This requires slightly more intensive maintenance, but this is balanced by the fact that the less attractive initial phase is less obvious. A number of species deserve special attention, since they may expand rapidly after they have established themselves, and may subsequently dominate for years. These include: Equisetum species, Sonchus arvensis, Cirsium arvense, Polygonum amphibium (land form), Elymus repens, Glyceria maxima, Tussilago farfara, Rumex obtusifolius and R. crispus. As soon as they start establishing themselves—and therefore are still small in size and numbers—the best method is to remove them root and all, after which one stamps the soil down again. At this stage it is still a relatively easy job to remove them and, in doing so, one can prevent a situation that may be unattractive for years. Species of disturbed situations such as these will rarely establish themselves in older meadows where the turf is closed.

As a rule, mowing should take place once or twice a year. If the development of the vegetation indicates that mowing twice is not sufficient—the vegetation is very lush and high (70-120 cm (2-4 feet)) during the whole growing season, the grass species are mainly the coarser types and the vegetation falls over quickly—then one will have to revert to mowing three times a year: in the middle of May, the end of June and in September. In such cases, the soil is very rich, usually producing great quantities of biomass, and, in all probability, is not very well suited on which to develop a flower meadow.