Selkirk trying out natural grasses, wildflowers on city green spaces

The City of Selkirk is going “au naturel” in it’s landscaping on some boulevards and parks this summer.

Four pilot projects are looking at different ways of making city boulevards, medians, and park spaces look more natural.

“Three of the projects will be cultivated in a row in Selkirk Park in the field across from the dog park and an additional plot will be added to the existing wildflower project on Main Street,” said Mihali Schindle, the city’s urban forestry and naturalization coordinator in a news release.

Around 5,000 square feet of green space will be used for wildflower meadow, tall grass prairie, and organic sports turf test plots.

The wildflower meadow will help determine the viability of converting underutilized turf spaces into wildflower meadows that contain a mix of short prairie grasses and wildflowers under three feet in height.

“These might be more desirable in park areas where we want to maintain a more clear line of sight, where we don’t want plants that are six feet tall, so along roadways in parks,” said Schindle in the city statement.

Two plots will be used for tall grass prairie to test the use of converting underutilized turfgrass into a tall grass and wildflower mix as well, but these will be taller and grow to about six feet in height.

Both the wildflower and tall grass require less maintenance and should reduce mowing and watering, while dramatically increasing biodiversity and habitats for wildlife and pollinators.

The final park pilot project will study a mix of existing turfgrass, for improving turf in outfields and other park areas.

The turf plot will also allow the city to learn about using the mix on sports fields for a more environmentally-friendly surface that reduces the need for irrigation and fertilizer.

Planting for the projects will begin soon.

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