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Red Deer County News

Posted on: July 11, 2018

Take A Break - Landscaping With Nature In Mind

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By Aimee Delaney, Conservation Assistant

Are you getting tired of mowing the lawn routinely? Perhaps it’s time to go with a native approach. For those considering converting their yard from high maintenance lawn to low-maintenance native habitat, the benefits you can gain can be quite great and give you more time to enjoy your landscape.

While lawns definitely have benefits of their own, they can also be a hostile, sterile environment because it is clipped short, has very few species, and lacks food and places to hide or nest for wildlife. Rather than getting rid of all the lawn, consider the minimum amount for your needs and then consider how to convert the remaining lawn into a space where natural habitats can grow.

Even if you have a small yard, small plots of native plants can become patchwork wildlife havens. Enhancing wildlife habitat is especially important since over 75 percent of endangered species are found on private land. One way to create this space is to remove existing lawn and plant certain types of annual and perennial plants and grasses – non-weed species are always preferred, if not required for minimal maintenance.

Replacing a lawn with a woodland is more difficult, although it can certainly be done. Trees will self-establish as ‘volunteers’ – if you are willing to wait. Or if not, you can buy native trees and shrubbery from a local nursery, such as dogwood, willows, chokecherry and balsam popular for example. Comparatively, native trees and shrubs support a higher diversity of bugs and insects than non-native trees and shrubs. These invertebrates also act as a meal for more favored wildlife.

Over maintenance can be difficult to let go of. A native lawn is accustomed to growing without the additive help of water, fertilizer and heavy weed control; so let it grow!

For a list of native plants for our eco-region visit the Agroforestry Woodlot Extension Society at or call Aimee at 403.342.8654.

Note: Re-establishing or enhancing native plants and areas on your farm, ranch or acreage could be an eligible ALUS or Green Acreages project. Contact Ken (for ALUS) or Aimee (Green Acreages) at 403.342.8654 or

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