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Natural Areas Management Plan

Please click here to view the WildWing Natural Areas Management Plan

Please click here to view an article from Colorado State University regarding Native Area Grass Area

The Wildwing Metro District has acknowledged the community's concerns regarding the aesthetic condition of natural areas and landscaping. In response, the District is collaborating with Foothills Landscape Maintenance (FLM) to enhance the appearance and upkeep of community entrances and manicured landscapes. Previously, the District worked with High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC) to rehabilitate and maintain natural open spaces. In 2024, the District transitioned to directly and solely contracting FLM for natural area maintenance. HPEC's efforts included preparing the WildWing Natural Areas Management Plan, which outlines management goals, current conditions, and a multi-year rehabilitation strategy. The District and FLM are implementing this plan, employing methods such as mowing, beauty band mowing, weed spraying, and re-seeding to restore the planted initially dry-land grasses.

Colorado's metropolitan areas are predominantly high mountain prairies, where native grasslands thrive more effectively than other plants and landscape features. The expansive common areas in many communities and housing developments, coupled with city and municipal requirements, often lead to the use of native grasses over non-native turf species. This is due to their lower maintenance needs and reduced water consumption. With proper care, native grasses can thrive in Colorado's challenging climate with significantly fewer resources, making them a unique and beneficial choice for landscaping.

Developing and nurturing native landscapes requires a thoughtful maintenance program during the seeding and development stages. Initially, newly seeded native areas may appear unkempt, but understanding their growth and maintenance needs is crucial for allowing them to mature and achieve the desired aesthetic. Once established, native grasses do not require regular watering or mowing, which conserves water and reduces maintenance costs. These grasses perform best with natural moisture and moderate temperatures, presenting a lush, bluegrass-like appearance in spring and early summer before transitioning to a prairie-like look as the season progresses.

While native areas reduce overall landscaping costs, they do require specialized care, particularly in terms of mowing and weed control. Native grasses germinate best in cooler soils during late spring and fall and should be allowed to grow and seed without frequent cutting. Weed control must be timed carefully, especially in newly developing areas, to avoid hindering the growth of native grasses. Patience and a well-considered plan are essential for communities aiming to establish and maintain native landscapes, ultimately resulting in a sustainable and attractive environment that supports water conservation.

The grass mixture used to seed WildWing’s natural open spaces was developed for elevations of 3,000 to 8,000 feet to provide natural cover under dryland conditions. The mixture contains both cool and warm season grasses adapted to the Western Great Plains and Southwest region and has excellent cold and drought tolerance and can be used in poor soils. The grasses used in the mixture grow to a height of 30 to 60 inches with average rainfall and include the following types shown below.  Additional information on each grass can be found by clicking on the name:

  • Annual Ryegrass (20%) – Cool Season bunchgrass that provides fast green up and root structure to stabilize soil.
  • Slender Wheatgrass (15%) – Cool season bunchgrass native to the mountain and inter-mountain areas of the western United States and the northern Great Plains.
  • Crested Wheatgrass (12%) – Cool season bunchgrass that is drought tolerant, and winter hardy with a deep rooted system making an excellent soil binder.
  • Mountain Brome (10%) – A cool-season bunchgrass that survives on thin, dry or coarse soils, and displays strong winter hardiness.
  • Hard Fescue (10%) – Cool season bunchgrass well adapted to many soil types and often used for erosion control.
  • Canada Bluegrass (10%) – Cool season bunch/sod forming grass often used for soil stabilization.
  • Sideoats Grama (6%) – Warm season bunch/sod forming perennial grass 15 – 30” tall that is adapted to most soil conditions.
  • Big Bluestem (6%) – Warm season sod-former that is a tall grass, reaching a height of 6 to 8 feet on most sites when left uncut.
  • Blue Grama Coated (5%) – Warm season bunch/sod forming grass that demonstrates good drought, fair salinity, and moderate alkalinity tolerances.
  • Switchgrass (5%) – Warm season sod-former very tolerant of poor soils, flooding and drought. Often used in reclamation of sand dunes and dikes.
  • Sand Dropseed (1%) Warm Season bunchgrass commonly grows on sandy soils but is adapted to medium textured soils.
  • Click here to view an article from USDA regarding Buffalograss
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