How to Create a Meadow with Annuals

Culture wild beauty in your backyard with these expert tips

Picture this: a garden bursting with life, painted in a riot of colours, where nature plays its symphony. That’s the magic of a meadow garden filled with annual flowers. If you want to transform your outdoor space into a dynamic masterpiece with a dose of wild beauty, this is your answer. Imagine a landscape where vibrant blooms thrive with minimal effort — perfect for those who adore the beauty of nature but have a busy schedule.

Meadow gardens planted with annual flowers are a fantastic choice when you crave instant gratification. Annual flowers bloom fast and furiously, creating an immediate visual impact. Whether beginner or seasoned, these gardens offer a joyful canvas for your green thumb dreams. They’re also a haven for pollinators, attracting bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, adding a touch of magic to your surroundings.

Have limited time for maintenance? No problem! Annual meadow gardens are a low-maintenance haven. Since annual flowers complete their life cycle in a single season, you won’t need to worry about long-term care or overwintering. Plus, they’re adaptable to various soil types and growing conditions.

So, whether you have a small patch or a vast yard, a meadow garden with annual flowers is your invitation to embrace nature’s beauty, indulge in the joy of gardening, and enjoy a slice of the wild right at your doorstep.

Annual flowering meadows work great wherever you have bare soil you might not have planned for. Often, Mark has some additional feet of beds in the vegetable garden, which is a great place to sow favourite annual meadow flowers like zinnias.

8 Tips for Building and Maintaining an Annual Meadow

1. Prepare your soil in the early spring by raking smooth a fine seedbed.

2. Wait, then weed. Leave the bare soil exposed for a couple of weeks to allow any weed seeds to germinate, then hoe and rake again before sowing your seeds. This will help minimize weed pressure.

3. Choose your seed mix from a catalogue of pre-determined brands or by taking whatever individual annual flower you have at hand and blending them. Choosing flowers of similar height is a good idea so that nothing gets too crowded out.

4. Spread the seed using a bulking agent such as sharp sand or sawdust to distribute the sand evenly across the seedbed. Mix a 1:10 ratio of seed to sand and distribute evenly across the soil surface.

5. Rake lightly and water. Within a couple of weeks, you will see germination, and if your selections are blended right, you should have a succession of flowers throughout the season.

6. Weed as necessary, gently pulling out unwanted plants by hand, not disturbing the surrounding flowers. Regular checks and light, careful weeding will keep your meadow tidy and let the vibrant annuals shine.

7. Cut the plants down to a height of 5cm at the end of the season. This tidies up the space while still allowing some seedheads for wildlife. If you’d like to save seeds for next year, let a portion of the plants go to seed before trimming.

8. If you collect seeds from the plants, wait until the seedheads dry and turn brown. Snip the seedheads and place them in a paper bag, allowing further drying for about a week. Gently shake the bag to release the seeds. Store in labelled envelopes in a cool, dry place for next season’s planting or share the magic with fellow gardeners.

Mark & Ben Cullen
Mark & Ben Cullen

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster and tree advocate
and holds the Order of Canada. His son, Ben, is a fourth-generation
urban gardener and a graduate of the University of Guelph and Dalhousie
University in Halifax. Follow them at, @MarkCullen4
(Twitter) and @markcullengardening (Facebook) and look for their latest book, Escape to Reality.

Follow them at, @MarkCullen4, and biweekly on Global TV’s national morning show, The Morning Show.

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Posted on Thursday, August 17th, 2023

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