Firstly patience is the key, this process can take between 4 and 8 years to fully settle down to a native meadow so good preperation and planning is essential from the outset.
Starting to think about how and where you want to grow a meadow you will first need to consider soil type, aspect, dampness and fertility. This will give you a better idea about what species will grow well there. There is no point in putting in seed that will not thrive. Look around locally and see what species are growing near you and look for a mix with those species in as this will give you good starting point for getting it right.
Look at the area you want use: the plan below shows a sample field with potential problems. The darker the colour the more grass will grow and will be less favourable to open meadow flowers and may be better to think about adding margin mix. On steep slopes, especially south facing, the ground can dry out and everything can struggle to grow in heat of summer but usually bounce back quickly for autumn and spring flowers.
High trees not only cast shade which favours other plants, usually found in woodlands, but can also produce a lot of leaves which can smother young plants, enrich the soils and encourage stronger grasses docks and thistles over flowers.
Best time is late August - October. The earlier the better.
Remove and weeds, dig docks and nettles if possible. Mow short as you can, scalping the soil slightly. A strimmer is perfect for this. Sow seeds on the surface rake in lightly and roll (especially in the spring). if you can sow the seeds 10-20 days before mowing then the seeds will be dampened down under the grasses and be ready to germinate when the grass is removed. this is what happen in the wild and with some warm but not too hot weather the seeds will take advantage of the sudden exposure to the sun and germinate. At this stage it is best to keep off the meadow for 6 to 8 weeks and let the seedlings develop, maybe cut again in November before the leaves fall so they can blow off and not get caught in the grass.
If you have a lot of undesiarable species in your meadow it is always best to stop them from seeding and dig them out if possible.
It the problem it too big and you gave creeping thistle bracken or docks then use a selective herbicide following the instructions carefully of get someone in who has a licence to handle them. Bracken can be treated with asulux, normally requires 2 treatments but if it is already weak, because it has been cut regularly, one will do.
Creeping thistle many not respond to herbicide but if you keep cutting or pulling it will eventually give up.
Dig Docks that the become established, just start with a small patch to begin with and gradually work you way across the area. If you can't dig them all at onnce just remove seed head and leaves.
On a new area of bare soil creat a stale seed bed but rotovating every 3 weeks. between April and June or august and October. Sow a mix immediatly after the last harrowing and roll in.
The best advice is to think when the best germination time are for seeds that have fallen out of the plants already in your meadow and cut the grass 3 week before then. The optimum time would be early to mid August but this may vary depending where you are in the country and aspect of your meadow. Sometimes cut in June but not too low. this will encourage later flowing species but not favour yellow rattle so maybe not he whole area, or just a few strips. leaving the cutting till early september will be best for butterflies and insects as well as many orchids.
Always remove the cuttings , drying them will help to shed some of the seed that may still be in the plant.