ESG4 – Tussock Grass Mixture
This mixture has been devised to create areas of uncut tussocky grassland. This tall grassland type is most value as a refuge for insects, small mammals, birds and amphibians along margins and in field corners.
|%||Latin name||Common name|
|20||Festuca rubra||Strong-creeping Red-fescue|
|15||Schedonorus arundinaceus (Festuca arundinacea)||Tall Fescue|
|25||Schedonorus pratensis (Festuca pratensis)||Meadow Fescue|
|20||8||2||Order this mixture|
Tussocky grassland can be established on most soil types. It is especially valuable where it's possible to form a free-draining raised tussocky grass bank; the upper sections of which provide warm, dry area and secure refuges for invertebrates, small mammals and farmland birds. In Countryside Stewardship this is the AB3 Beetle bank option
Ideally select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds (such as thistles or couch grass).
Good seedbed preparation is essential to success; aim to control weeds and produce a good quality seed bed before sowing.
For a AB3 Beetle bank create or maintain an earth ridge, measuring between 3m to 5m wide and at least 0.4m high Plough in 2 directions towards each furrow to create the required size followed by shallow cultivation of the bank to produce a firm, fine seedbed as needed. Don't overwork the bank as this can cause a loss in overall height. Banks created in this way which follow contours on slopes can also help to slow down or stop soil erosion.
Seed is best sown in the autumn or spring but can be sown at other times of the year if there is sufficient warmth and moisture.
The seed must be surface sown broadcast by machine or broadcast by hand (do not drill). Do not incorporate or cover the seed, but lightly roll as needed to firm it in, to get good soil/seed contact and conserve moisture.
First year management
Cut the grass several times during the first summer to control annual weeds and to help grasses establish. Avoid compacting the soil in the bank through running on it with machinery or cutting when the soil is wet.
Management once established
Once established, tussocky grassland requires minimal maintenance.
Cut sections only as needed to control invasive perennial weeds (docks, thistles) or contain scrub and bramble invasion. Do not cut until after 1 August to protect any nesting invertebrates and beneficial insects. For wildlife this cutting is best done on a rotational 2- 3 year cycle so that no more than half the area is cut in any one year leaving part intact as an undisturbed refuge.