Wildflowers for banks

Meadow Cranesbill and Meadowsweet on canal bank


Q:  Is it possible to establish Wildflowers on a River bank?

A: Riverbanks are generally rich in vegetation and often contain a build up of nutrients.

They should be sown or planted in the same way as fertile soils on arable land. An addition problem is the steepness meaning they are usually inaccessible for regular cutting.

We suggest the following guidelines:

-Consider using Wild flower  plug plants rather than seeds and choose the most competitive species available (we have put together a separate question listing these species)

-If using wildflower seeds then choose a wildflower seed mixture specially designed for fertile areas, which will contain generally strong competitive species.  Please click here for further information of an appropriate mixture.  Such mixtures even when left uncut, will provide an ideal habitat for small mammals, birds, amphibians etc which in turn attract birds of prey e.g. Barn owls.

-Prepare the bank as best as possible, removing as many weeds as possible. Always take appropriate steps to avoid the possibility of any herbicide entering a watercourse.

-Use a nurse crop of cornfield annual seeds to establish quick ground cover and reduce weed invasion.

-Take into consideration the risk of seeds being washed off steep banks either by rainwater, or a rise in water levels.

-Spot treat any persistent weeds as soon as they appear.

-Always ensure personal safety when working close to water bodies.