Gardening 4 Nature’s Great Yellow Rattle Sowing

Dear Gardeners 4 Nature

We have been very quiet so far this year…but in fact it’s been a good one for G4N.

There are now more than 50 households with G4N signage, the Sailing Club have joined in with small beds and margins managed for nature and anecdotally, there seem to be more gardens allowing a little more nature in than there used to be around the place.

My favourite was a garden I walked past two weeks ago. The owners weren’t G4Ners, but had posted a quick video of the bee action in their front garden where they had sown a pollinator seed mix.

We’re writing now to invite you to join in the great yellow rattle sowing. As many of you will know yellow rattle is a native annual which flowers in May and June and sheds its seed in situ in June and July. It’s a very pretty little flower much loved by bees.

And it has a super-power: it parasitises on the roots of coarse grasses, weakening them but not killing them. In so doing it creates space and light for other wildflowers to colonise lawns, turning them into natural mini meadows.

Here’s a tweet by someone who has ten years of yellow rattle growth in their front lawn and has the orchids and other wildlfowers to prove it!

If you would like some seeds for your lawn, let us know. We are giving away 10g starter packets, enough for 10 square metres of lawn at the recommended rate of 1g per square metre. Yellow rattle spreads quite easily but if you do want more, let us know and we will see what we can do.

Sowing is easy. You just mow your lawn close in late October/November and remove the clippings. Then scarify the area for sowing until you’ve created lots of bare earth among the grass. Remove those arisings too, then sow and tread the seed down to make sure of good contact between seed and soil. And that’s it!

The following year you can mow before March if desired, otherwise leave the area unmown until the end of July (or until the end of October if you want the grass to weaken and all the wildflowers to set seed before you mow). Whenever you do it, remove the clippings again.

And if any friends or neighbours want to do the same, you can always give them your clippings because there will be some yellow rattle seed in there (as well as plenty left in your sward for next year).

And if you ever want to get rid of it, just mow your lawn as normal. Yellow Rattle is an annual so as long as it doesn’t seed it will be gone the next year.

That’s it for now. Let us know if you want some seeds (email us at, deadline for ordering is 26th of August 2023, enjoy the rest of the summer and thanks as ever for supporting the Wivenhoe wildlife.

All the best

Mark and Mandy for G4N

PS If you want to know more about yellow rattle, take a look here at the site we get our seed from.


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