Where can I find the equipment I need to create a wild flower meadow, approximately 18,000sq m, and cut and cultivate an overgrown field, bale the grass.

Sally Drury explains the best methods and equipment for turning land into a wild flower meadow.

A: That is quite a large area for a meadow. What was it previously? A couple of football pitches? Or was it grazing land?

The starting point for any meadow creation should be an assessment of what is there already. You say a contractor currently mows the site - and I guess the cuttings are left on site. This is likely to have increased the nutrient content, thus favouring grass growth. The best meadows come from sites of low fertility - this is why hay is removed from such sites after the favoured flowers have seeded.

Nevertheless, a thorough analysis of the site would be worthwhile. Record all species present - grass species included. A soil test kit will reveal the fertility of the site.

I also suggest that you read my article, "Pollination revival" (HW, 15 June) for the latest research into techniques for increasing wild flower population in previously grassed areas such as golf roughs, the edges of sports pitches and farm field headlands.

One way to enrich the area with wild flowers and create a meadow would be to use a flail mower/scarifier/collector - such as the Amazone Groundkeeper, Trilo, Wiedenmann or Wessex machines - set to cut around 50mm with collection and removal of grass clippings/hay. Then set the machine as low as possible so it scarifies to give 40-60 per cent bare ground. A 1.5m Amazone Groundkeeper would need a 30-40hp tractor.

Both units could be hired from Pro-Turf Equipment Hire. If you hired a tractor with a front-end loader, you could grade the sloping entrance or build a soil ramp to gain easy and safe entrance to the site.

You will also need a sprayer and an operative with appropriate certification. An application of Rescue herbicide will reduce the invasive course ryegrass, which I suspect you will have on site. Then an application of Primo Maxx plant growth regulator can be used to reduce competition from grass species while wild flower seed germinates and takes a hold. So, yes, you will also need a seeding machine. Again, try Pro-Turf Equipment Hire.

The best time of year has been shown to be July/August but autumn programmes also give good results if there is sufficient time for the seedlings to establish prior to winter.

Sally Drury has been reporting on product developments and testing kit for 29 years. The advice given in this helpline is independent.


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