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6 ways to boost roadside sustainability with wildflower verges

Wildflower verges are unsung heroes, fostering ecosystems essential for roadside sustainability.

Nearly half of the UK's wildflowers thrive in verges, serving as crucial havens for pollinators. Unfortunately, over 97% of meadows have been destroyed since the 1930s, but wildflower verges can be used to establish new areas of biodiversity. 

We believe the beauty and significance of wildflower verges are often unappreciated. Here are six actions on how you can contribute to restoring nature alongside our roads. 

 1. Weed management strategies

Managing competitive grasses and weeds is vital for optimising the ecological integrity and aesthetic appeal of wildflower verges along roadsides. 

When seeding a new area, preparing a weed-free bed is essential to prevent competition with the wildflower mix you're planting. This involves removing invasive species like docks and nettles manually or using appropriate methods.

By implementing weed control techniques and promoting native plant diversity, landscape architects can create resilient ecosystems while preserving soil health and enhancing the overall sustainability and longevity of roadside landscapes.

For more advice on wildflower weed control, find our guide here. 

2. Wildflower selection for vibrant roadside landscapes 

When planning wildflower verges, prioritising native plant species is desirable. 

Native plants are well-suited to the local climate and soil conditions ensuring resilience and low maintenance. Additionally, they play a crucial role in providing habitat and food for local wildlife, particularly pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The RE1 Traditional Hay Meadow (MG5 Grassland) is an excellent choice for creating diverse native habitats.

Thorough research is necessary to identify suitable native wildflowers for your region. Aim for a diverse mix that blooms throughout the year to support biodiversity.  

For urban and suburban landscapes, you can enhance this mix by incorporating high-quality annual and perennial wildflower seeds, ensuring vibrant colours and continuous blooms. Consider Germinal’s WFG2 Flowering Meadow, which combines native and non-native species to enhance visual appeal and establish an enticing habitat with an extended flowering period.

For guidance on how to choose the best wildflower for your road verge, check out this guide.  

3. Apply the two-cut management approach 

For wildflowers to flourish, they must complete their entire life cycle. Cutting too early or too frequently can eliminate species and diminish the value of road verge wildflowers.

The recommended mowing frequency for wildflowers is twice a year, avoiding the months of April through August, with occasional edge cuts as necessary for road safety and path clearance. Adopting an annual cycle of 1-2 cuts can effectively reduce costs and minimise operational disruption.

For more advice on how to manage wildflowers, visit our guide here. 

4. Fostering wildflower growth with the ‘cut and collect’ technique

The "cut and collect" method prevents the dominance of nutrient-loving grasses and fosters an environment where wildflowers can thrive, supporting delicate plant species. 

It plays a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem health by reducing the buildup of dead vegetation and promoting balanced soil fertility.

To implement this method effectively, rake the verge to collect the "arisings" and gather the cuttings, thereby maintaining lower nutrient levels and boosting the number of wildflowers.

5. Transforming existing verges into wildflower havens 

When dealing with an existing wildflower verge, it's crucial to assess its current state. Frequently, weedy grassland areas already have a rich diversity of species like Black Medick, Clovers, Knapweed and Yarrow. 

Assess the site to determine whether the environmental conditions, such as soil type, sunlight exposure and drainage are suitable for wildflowers, to ensure the selected species can bloom.

Simply transitioning the management approach of these areas to that of a wildflower habitat will enhance the wildlife benefits, with the potential for increases in species diversity over time.

6. Promoting awareness about wildflower verges

Consider placing an informative sign to educate the public on the important role of preserving verge wildflower habitats. 

This step is essential to safeguard the site from disruption and excessive foot traffic, which can result in soil compaction and harm to the delicate ecosystem of the wildflower meadow.

Make a climate smart choice

Explore our wildflower seed mixture range here and for guidance on wildflower verges, speak to our experts.