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Newly laid wildflower lawn
If you are going to cut your meadow, it is best done twice a year at the following times:
•Once in autumn (late August to September)
The autumn cut gives the meadow plants the best chance to flower and set seed. However, traditional hay meadows can be cut in late July. Farmers may also want to cut at this time to provide hay for farm animals. The spring cut knocks back thistles and vigorous grasses that may have taken hold over the winter.
Cutting is flexible, allowing a great deal of control over the timing, area and height of the cut. However, cutting a whole meadow in one go can take away all the food needed by insects. So leave some areas uncut for them. The best way to do this is to cut the edges of your grassland in rotation. Leave a different side uncut each year. A four metre margin is ideal.
Cutting can be carried out with a variety of tools. This will depend on the size of your meadow and what is available to you. On a small meadow, in medium to long grass, hand sythes or a power strimmer can be used. On a larger area long grass can be cut for hay using a power sythe or a tractor drawn grass cutter.
If your meadow is invaded by 'weeds' such as docks and thistles, then animals can be kept on over the summer to knock them back. However this is harmful to insects and should only be done every few years.
The effects of grazing are complex. There are a number of things to consider.
•Cattle, goats and other bigger animals are more likely to erode the soil than smaller ones such as sheep.