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Why are wildflower lawns experiencing a surge in popularity?

Wildflower lawns are changing what we consider to be a traditional ‘garden’, and could have long term effects on our approach to personal nature projects.

Ever heard of a ‘wildflower lawn’?

Those familiar with the ins and outs of gardening may already be in the know, but wildflower lawns could soon become a mainstream staple of the gardening industry.

What exactly are they, though? Grown with mixes of native species, instead of more traditional specially selected garden plants, wildflower lawns started gaining notoriety as an easy form of environmental activism around 2018, pushed by nature conservation groups like the RSPB.

Their aesthetic at that time was a bit out of the mainstream – wildflower lawns are a lot more grown out and less tidy looking than traditional lawns, since the whole point is to just let it be once you’ve planted.

Now with the rise of the cottage-core aesthetic and a new appreciation for the organic and the unpredictable, they’re experiencing a surge in popularity – from celebrity homes to public parks. Prestigious magazines like Architectural Digest sing their praise and exclusive design firms boast their own successful varieties.

And for good reason! Firstly, since native species are already adapted to where you plant them, wildflower lawns take a lot less pruning, water, and effort to maintain. Next, and most importantly, they are great for your local ecosystem.

Wildflower lawns attract, feed, and protect local wildlife with plants that naturally adapt to your local climate and ecology. They are especially good for bees, whose numbers have been in steady decline over the last few decades.

Sturdier plants can also act as natural flood barriers. While a typical green grass lawn won’t be much use in a rainstorm, an ecosystem of native species can act like a sponge to soak up flood water.

Their deeper roots mean your new lawn won’t be washed away either. All of this is especially useful if you live in a city, where a breakdown of natural ecosystems is most likely to happen.

The best thing about wildflower lawns is that they are super easy to create for yourself. If you don’t have much time, but you do have a patch of lawn, the best thing you can do is just let it be.

This will allow nature to take its course, and it is likely native grasses and flowers will start springing up all by themselves. If you want a more intentional lawn, you can weed and lightly till the soil, then buy a seed mix that works for your area.

Local garden centers and conservation groups also sell tailored seed mixes adapted to your area and environment. You can even get ones for specific effects – for example shorter plants, more flowers, or plants that attract specific kinds of wildlife, like birds and bees.

And if you really want to get creative with it, do some research yourself about the kinds of plants native to your area and make your own unique mix. Home design specialists, take note!

Whatever level you take it to, you’ll be helping to preserve biodiversity and improve your neighborhood’s climate resilience.

Right now, the word “lawn” brings to mind wide, tidy stretches of grass, maybe with a row of petunias or some squarish trimmed shrubs sitting at its edges.

However, the popularity of the wildflower lawn could mean a whole shift in how we think about gardening in general. Instead of a process that is purely decorative, wildflower lawns allow a garden to contribute positively to a wider ecosystem.