Habitat Creation | Grasslands
Meadow and pasture are of many kinds, even today they are as rich in variation as are woodlands. Grassland plants, and the communities they compose, vary according to soil acidity and texture, flooding, slope, altitude, whether grazed and by what animals, whether mown and at what season, and management history.
Meadow is the best recorded land-use in the Doomsday book, with over 10,000 entries, traditionally defined as an area which is mown for hay. Nowadays, they are recreated areas often in Nature reserves, with an educational aspect on grassland biodiversity.
Altering the management of existing grasslands may encourage diversity. Changes can be made by reducing the frequency of mowing, by stopping fertiliser treatment, and by various mechanical procedures such as raking or scarifying. However, diversity will only result if additional species are already on the site, or able to colonise. The most likely sites are "poor" grasslands on well-drained soils which tend to be gappy and brown in dry summers. Grass growth will be less competitive than on more fertile sites, and a break in mowing will allow plants to flower and seed into gaps. Other species may colonise, especially if there is a good seed source nearby.
Many urban sites however will not diversify through simply reducing mowing. Often the soils are too fertile, or lawns, parks or sports turf may have been fertilised for many years. These site can only be diversified by seeding or planting additional species, and carrying out an appropriate management regime to allow them to establish and spread.