When to cut a wildflower meadow and what to do, with expert tips from Monty Don

Wondering when to cut a wildflower meadow? Get the lowdown including advice from TV gardener Monty Don

pretty wildflower meadow in bloom
(Image credit: Deborah Vernon/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you’ve added an area of long grass and native blooms to your yard or even chosen it in place of a manicured lawn, you’ll likely be wondering when to cut a wildflower meadow. 

With wonderful colors from the native blooms along with the appealing texture and soft movement of long grasses, a wildflower meadow, once established, is a low maintenance choice. But although it needs far less mowing than a traditional lawn, it is important to note that you can’t give up the job completely. 

A wildflower meadow does need to be cut to create the wonderful natural picture you want in your yard so whether one of your lawn ideas is to opt for this colorful beauty, or you already have an attractive expanse of blooms and grass, we have the inside track on when to cut a wildflower meadow.  

When to cut a wildflower meadow

If you’re already in the know about how to plant a wildflower meadow, you’ll be aware that the rules about when to cut a wildflower meadow are different when it is first planted from those that apply after its first year when it is established.

wildflower meadow

(Image credit: Future)

When is the best time to cut a wildflower meadow?

First of all, when to cut a wildflower meadow when it is first planted? You will need to wait for it to grow, but after a couple of months you should mow the meadow to around 2 inches (5cm) in height. Repeat at a two monthly interval through its first summer, cutting to the same height.

You can find the best lawn mower for the job in our handy buying guide. 

How often should you mow a wildflower meadow?

After the first year and when the wildflower meadow is established you can cut it less frequently. The number of cuts will depend on how lushly it grows. You might cut just once a year, but you may find you need to or want to cut on one, two or even more additional occasions.

wildflower meadow in bloom in spring

(Image credit: Future)

What time of year is best to mow a wildflower meadow?

The timing of when to cut a wildflower meadow is fairly straightforward. There are three windows for cutting – spring, summer and fall – and, as we mentioned above, you may take advantage of just one of them or more.

Cutting it as part of your spring lawn care is a good idea if the grass in your wildflower meadow grows very lushly. Make the cut before the end of April and aim for a height of 3 inches (7.5cm).

Gardening expert, author and broadcaster Monty Don, who has wildflower meadows as part of his garden, Longmeadow, recommends August as a good month to cut a wildflower meadow as short as possible. This is its summer cut and is one you should make.

On his website, Monty explains that the purpose of this cut is to expose areas of bare soil in order that flower seeds can make contact and germinate.

Cutting in August has allowed the flowers the time to set seed and, if there are any bulbs in the meadow, for this foliage to die back, he says. 

You might also want to cut your wildflower meadow in the fall. This can help the wildflowers by keeping grasses in check. 

wildflower meadow in full bloom

(Image credit: Deborah Vernon/Alamy Stock Photo)

What’s the best way to cut a wildflower meadow?

There are a few options for cutting a wildflower meadow, according to Monty Don. You could use the best strimmer or hire a powerful cutter, he explains. The alternative is to take the traditional route and use a scythe, which Monty says does the job as well as anything.

Our note of caution? If you decide to use a scythe, make sure both your feet and your legs are well protected, and proceed with utmost care.

If your meadow doesn’t cover a large area, a further alternative is simply to use hand shears. This isn’t a practical proposition for a meadow of any size, of course, but will work just fine for a small version. You can find the best garden shears for the job in our buying guide. 

Make sure you remove all the cut grass after mowing, Monty cautions. If you don’t, it will feed the soil as it decomposes. Why is this a problem? It encourages lush regrowth but the wild flowers and bulbs will accordingly lose out, he explains.

Prefer to keep your wildflower meadow short up until winter? This isn’t a problem so long as you keep collecting the grass cuttings as you do so, Monty advises.

Don't forget, you can find plenty more tips on how to mow a lawn in our dedicated guide. 

wildflower meadow in bloom

(Image credit: Future)
Sarah Warwick
Freelance writer

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.