Improving Water Quality by...
PIONERRING IN AN ERA OF URBAN PRAIRIE
What is Native Landscaping?
More than 10,000 years ago tallgrass prairie developed in Iowa after the retreat of glaciers. Prior to settlement in Iowa, tallgrass prairie covered the landscape. The tallgrass prairie of Iowa was an ecosystem rich in species diversity including grasses, flowering plants, insects, and other animals adapted to survive a wide range of conditions ranging from hot and dry to moist and boggy. After the growth of agricultural production, nearly all of the native tallgrass prairie disappeared.
Native landscaping is the use of vegetation native to a specific ecoregion. These plants are usually more adapted to the climate in the region and provide the most environmental benefit when used. Their benefits are compounded as they provide increased stormwater infiltration with their deep and extensive root system and provide crucial pollinator habitat. Urban native landscaping can be curated to have either a natural prairie appearance or a more manicured landscape accent, depending on the homeowner’s preference. See some examples below!
Why Use Natives?
Plants that were part of the tallgrass prairie are referred to as native plants; evolving naturally with Iowa’s historic landscape. These native tallgrass prairie plants have extensive root systems that can be as deep as 15 feet. These root systems help form deep rich soils that improve the ability of soil to infiltrate water and withstand erosion.
Native landscaping can be strategically incorporated into areas of your property that experience ponding and/or flooding to increasing infiltration and allowing stormwater soak into the soil profile. With their deep roots, once established, natives need no irrigation or mowing like your conventional turf grass and provide a desirable food and habitat resource for our native songbirds and pollinators alike.
Native Landscaping in the Easter Lake Watershed
Over the course of the Easter Lake Watershed Project 19 native landscaping projects have been installed totaling 494,785 SF. These projects have all helped to slow down and infiltrate stormwater running off individual houses, while also adding vital habitat and nectar resources for native pollinators.
Do you live within the Easter Lake Watershed? Find out HERE. As part of the Easter Lake Watershed Project, residents, businesses, and other landowners located within the watershed are eligible for up to 75% cost-share for native landscaping.