The District no longer performs annual mowing of the native grass in common areas / open space or along fence lines.
We do still mow a wide strip along the edge of sidewalks / walking paths.
You are allowed to trim the native grass up to 3 feet outside your fence line. Trim it no shorter than 6″ in height (do not mow it), for example with a string trimmer or weed whacker. Cutting too short or mowing inhibits the health of the native grass. Please see the full rules for the area outside your fence: District Fence and Common Area Rules 2023-06-13
One of the things that makes Colorado a uniquely attractive residential destination, is the beauty of its native landscapes. Most of our metropolitan areas are considered a zone 5 high mountain prairie, where certain plants and landscape features will grow much better than others, like the native grasslands on the prairie land.
Native grasses conserve a precious natural resource – water. Due to the vastness of many of the residential landscapes in Districts, native grasses are used in areas where other turf species are not practical, because of their maintenance requirements and water consumption needs. Like other landscape features, native grasses must be cared for properly to promote their growth, health, and appearance.
The most important aspect of developing and nurturing native is the maintenance program that follows the seeding and development stage. Many people look at a newly seeded native area and see an unkempt landscape. In reality, what you are seeing is an early stage of native grass development. These grasses are not meant to be watered or cut regularly like bluegrass. They need to be allowed to progress and spread naturally, using strategic mowing, weeding and irrigation.
Time to establish: 3 to 7 years
After seeding and germination have occurred, bare spots are expected in the native grass. Native grass takes approximately 3-7 years to fill in. This process occurs by avoiding mowing the native grass until after it has dropped its seed into the bare spots.
Native grasses germinate and develop in spring and fall when the soil is cooler. To “go to seed” these grasses must grow seed heads and spread. Often this is weather dependent, but usually occurs April-early June, and again in late Sept-early Nov.
‘Beauty band’ mowing. It is District (and developer) maintenance policy to mow ‘beauty bands’ along sidewalks. The band is one mower width (approximately 4 feet). Fence lines are no longer mowed.
Weed Spray Application. Newer native grass areas should never have pre-emergent spray (preventative herbicide for weeds not yet visible) as it prevents growth and germination. Post-emergent spray (for weeds that have already surfaced) is best.
For newly seeded areas, and those that are still developing, less weed control is required. Unfortunately, this means that undesirable weeds will be present, and will have to be accepted while the native grass develops. Spot spraying of native weeds can be performed at this time, which targets weeds, and reduces the risk to desirable native. As native areas develop and improve, additional post-emergent applications can be performed. Generally this means two applications per year. The District added a third weed spray application in the 2022 season.
Irrigation is temporary. Once native areas are established, watering can be reduced, then eliminated. This can take 3 to 7 years, but once established the native grass will thrive on natural precipitation, and expensive irrigation cost will be eliminated.
By treating native delicately and understanding what is needed for it to develop and thrive, Districts throughout Colorado have enjoyed the tremendous beauty that was intended for them. Patience is key, and gaining the commitment of the community to follow a well-defined maintenance program will offer the results that lead to an enjoyable open space filled with native grasses.