A  - Before -View to house

I was asked to make a meadow that wouldn’t require regular mowing/maintenance, so my client could enjoy his weekends away rather than spend most of his time mowing.

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Soil was required to repair the building works at the back of the house, so it was the perfect moment to remove all the fertile turf and create a pond.

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Fortunately we found two local expert digger drivers who had all the equipment and experience required to use the very heavy clay-filled bentomat liner.

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Bentomat has to be covered with soil and becomes waterproof as soon as it gets wet, so fortunately it didn’t rain whilst we were putting it in place.

 

 

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Time for a well deserved break.

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We used the turf we had stripped before the diggers started, to create access paths around the pond. Unfortunately it had started to rain by this point, so it was a very messy job, but the turf took well despite being slapped down onto mud.

 

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The digger drivers sculpted the contours like artists and created this level viewing and hammock area with the excess soil. Unfortunately during the levelling process, the soil became very compacted and unworkable in the wet weather.

 

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I shovelled some fresh soil onto the compacted banks around the pond, to give the flower seeds more of a chance, even though there was a risk it might have contained the weed seeds and fertility that we had been trying to remove.

A - Nix raking

A few weeks after the diggers had finished it dried up enough to rotovate the compacted hillside, but this in turn brought up rocks and clods of soil that we had to rake and remove before sowing the rest of the wildflower seeds. Unfortunately it started to rain again before we could finish sowing, but eventually it was all done and all the hard work preparing the seedbed was worth it.

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Time spent in the hammock is especially sweet, surrounded by flowers and insects.

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The House Martins are too fast for me to capture on camera, but they are a pleasure to watch swirling and skimming over the new pond. They dip in to drink and they used the mud around the edges to build their nests – it’s as though they think the pond was made for them, which it was.

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We would of course also like to encourage newts, frogs and other visitors to the pond, but they might take a bit longer than the House Martins to discover the new habitat we have created for them.

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We added a few non invasive bulrushes to speed up the process of greening the edges of the pond. Next year the perennial marginal plants we sowed at the same time as the meadow will be mature enough to flower, so the pond will look more established.

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There will also be more perennial flowers and grasses in the meadow, so we might rotavate  a section of the hillside to recreate the colourful display of annuals that have been such a success in just four months since sowing this first year.

Me mowing

It may seem cruel to cut pathways through the flowers, but I had sowed a path of flowery lawn seed from the start, with the intention of having access through the meadow. It is wonderful to be able to look at the flowers and insects more closely and be surrounded by them on a bench or rug. It is also interesting to note how some species have done better in different areas because of the variations in soil that the diggers spread around.

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james flowers close up

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me and maia on benches