Treading Softly - Environmentally considerate living in a rural english home and garden

Treading Softly

The Meadow

The one-acre meadow measuring 30 x 120 metres is mixed grasses surrounded by hedgerows and hedgerow trees. The grasses are mainly couch, ryegrass, cocksfoot, Yorkshire fog and Sweet Meadow grass along with a variety of umbelifers, dock, sorrel, nettle, mint, thistles, meadow sweet, common vetch, stitchwort, celandines, speedwells, Goldlilocks Buttercup, Meadow Buttercup and other wildflowers. Trees within the paddock are Ash, Maple, Beech, English Oak and Crab Apple.

One hedgerow was newly planted by English Woodlands soon after our arrival in 1995. It consists of Hawthorn, Hazel, Black Thorn, Guelder Rose, Field Maple, Dogrose and Crab Apple.Trees in the hedgerows are English and Sessile Oaks, Ash, Field Maples, Copper Beech, Pussy Willow and Crab Apples. The other tall and overgrown hedgerow was laid the same year.

We estimate we have over 130,000 happy, healthy, organic earthworms in the meadow.

Meadow Management

When we first arrived we had a tractor come in and 'top' the field once a year in August, leaving the hay to decompose. However in recent years we have evolved a more complex management plan to provide a variety of grassland habitat on the one-acre meadow.

(a) rotate the area to be cut each year. The current plan cuts approximately half the area (2 quarters of the rectangle) each year and then rotates anticlockwise. This results in any quartile being cut 2 years in a row (e.g. 2009 and 2010) then left uncut for 2 years in a row (2013 and 2014).

(b) vary the type of cut each year.

EITHER mow (using a Rough Cut mower) and leave cuttings to decompose. Hayricks from the scythed hay cut in 2010
Click the Summer 2009 image below to see the result of Mowing.

OR Scythe (using a Power Scythe) to clip off the tall grass at its base to make hay. The hay cut is quite easy to rake, stack and remove (using a pitch fork) and the process leaves less grass to compost back into the soil leaving the space and poorer soil more conducive to wildflower germination.

In 2010 for the first time half a dozen hayricks were left standing. These have been found to provide very popular habitats for spiders and insects, lizards and frogs. Results are better when making and removing the hay but it is more work.

[On this page, click for larger images]
The meadowStitchwort and Cowslips by the Meadow bench Stitchwort - Spring 2011





Winter - January 2010 Spring 2010 Summer 2010 Autumn 2010


Meadow - January 2009 Forgot to take a picture Summer 2009 Autumn 2009