Enhancing parklands by seeding or planting plugs of suitable grassland flowers will in most cases be beneficial to biodiversity. As well as increased numbers and types of invertebrates, compared to simply long grass, flower-rich grasslands provide more abundant insect and seed food for birds and other wildlife during summer and winter.
They also tend to be appreciated more by visitors to the parks.
However some sites may have remnant areas of semi-natural flower-rich grassland. It is important that these are managed well and are not swamped by seeding or planting with plants that are not indigenous to that site and that might out-compete the original plant community.
RSPB’s research into the seeds and invertebrates produced in long grass and in wild flower meadow plots, found that although long grass had a lot more seeds and invertebrates than short grass, wild flower meadow plots had even more.
Three advice notes on Managing Amenity Grassland can be found via a link on this RSPB page.
The notes can also be found in the RSPB’s Urban Advice Pack
Wildflower meadow links
Buglife: How to make a community meadow
TCV: wildflower meadow
Floralocale: grassland creation and floral enhancement
Newcastle council: Creating and managing urban meadows
Creating and maintaining flower-rich grasslands is of increased value for wildlife. Grasslands that include wild flowers have more insects using the grasses and plants as somewhere to breed and shelter. They attract an increased variety of insects such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies by providing pollen and nectar.
Because of the ways amenity grasslands have been managed over the years they tend to be lacking a rich and diverse flora.
Although some floral improvement can be brought about by scarifying the turf and thinly seeding with flower seeds and planting with plugs, for the best results turf and some top-soil need to be removed.
A ‘meadow’ seed-mix of flowers and appropriate grasses can then be sown, and plugs planted, on the reduced nutrient sub-soils.
Thin sowing gives vegetation of an open nature, giving flowering plants a chance and making it easier for birds and mammals to forage.
Such wildflower meadows take time to become established. They need annual maintenance with appropriate mowing and control of rampant species, allowing a range of flowering plants to flourish.