How To series – establish a wildflower area on a golf course

Kerry Haywoodin Technical

The popularity of wildflowers isn't difficult to understand. Wildflowers attract birds and butterflies, are colourful, and are usually easy to grow from seed. Andew Laing, Course Manager at Gaudet Luce Golf & Leisure Complex, gives us his tips on how best to establish a wildflower area whilst improving the visual appearance and ecological qualities of a golf course.

Suggested areas of use include tee banks, path edges or simply to create a perfect "Operation Pollinator" area anywhere on your golf course. This is a great opportunity for your course to showcase its commitment to the wellbeing of both the environment and native pollinating insects.

In many ways creating a successful wildflower planting is a complex task, but one which depends upon fairly simple factors including the following:

  • Select the right mix for the area, know what are trying to achieve and the height range of the mix selected
  • If you are using an annual mix, ensure you choose an area which gets afternoon sunshine. These mixtures do not thrive in dark, shady environments
  • Ground preparation is the key to success - a clean seedbed is essential
  • Mix seed with a carrier such as kiln dried sand to make sowing at the low rates required more consistent
  • Chain harrow/rake & roll to ensure good seed/soil contact
  • Keep the seeds moist until they have germinated and established root systems capable of drawing moisture from deeper down in the soil.
  • Hand pull any large weeds during establishment to keep the area as clean as possible.
  • Take lots of photos and use social media to publicise - members love it!
  • After flowering, leave the stems intact throughout the winter to provide a food source for birds and ground cover for wildlife.
  • Identify an area and have a go - it's easy!

Typically, spring is the main sowing season however, Andrew sowed last autumn with stunning success. He used the Limagrain Colour Splash Biodiversity which contains, annuals, biennials and perennials. The mixture is mid-height and very rich, which is designed to attract butterflies, pollinating insects and in general, small invertebrate or vertebrate fauna.

Some of the benefits of wildflower mixes include:

  1. They add color and frame the golf course without requiring the continual maintenance of formal flower beds
  2. Chosen areas do not need regular mowing, fertilisation or pesticide treatments
  3. Those areas serve as a visual buffer and improve views
  4. They provide valuable habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies. They also act as great wildlife corridors

It is important to note that converting areas to wildflowers is not an exact science and requires some trial and error. Andrew recommends trying a few small areas first, to see which seed blends and planting times work best.

There are other videos in the How To series including:

Setting cylinder mower on cut
Pre-start checks for a ride-on mower
Pre-start checks on a pedestrian cylinder mower
Setting height of cut on a cylinder mower
Storing machines away for winter
Back-lap a pedestrian cylinder mower
The importance of using the correct sprinkler nozzle
Step by step guide to strip down a sprinkler
Step by step guide to replacing a sprinkler
Basic maintenance on a solenoid valve