As with much of Colorado, the Inspiration community is undergoing a period of moderate to severe drought. Summer-time rain that the area does receive tends to be in heavy rainfall events instead of the historically-prevalent afternoon showers, with much of the heavy-rainfall moisture leaving the community as runoff instead of soaking into the ground.  The area also exhibits poor soil and a harsh microclimate with strong winds and intense solar exposure.  All combined, this presents a challenging environment for the establishment of our native grass areas.

Under good conditions, it universally requires 3 to 5 years for stands of native grasses to fill in and fully establish themselves.  Under our existing conditions, however, the CAC believes that native grass areas may never become fully established unless the IMD takes the necessary actions available to it.

At the October 19 and November 16, 2021 meetings, the Common Area Committee (CAC) for the Inspiration Metro District (IMD) adopted the opinion that where possible, native grass areas under the auspices of the IMD should not be mowed.  Not mowing is viewed as one of the few things the IMD has the ability to control that can hopefully benefit the establishment of native grass areas.   It is worth noting that many other communities and metro districts either have or are adopting no-mow policies for their native grass areas.


The IMD cannot realistically control or alter the local soil quality. With native areas non-irrigated (except for some areas that are irrigated only for a period after initial planting), the IMD has little control over how much moisture our stands of native grass receive.

Mowing is a stress event for any turf or native grass.  Lacking good soil and weather conditions, some native grass may not survive any given mowing, especially if too much plant height is removed during the mow event.  The sandy-clay soil prevalent in Inspiration is easy to disturb by mowing equipment in dry conditions, especially in tight turns along fence lines or around trees planted in the native grass areas. Further, mowing in areas not extremely flat can lead mower blades “scalping” high spots, where the plant is basically cut off at ground level or even torn from the ground.  Such grass is very unlikely to survive.

Establishment of native grass areas by filling-in depends on the ability of grasses to develop seed heads and have those seeds drop to the soil where they have a chance at germinating.  Frequent mowing of native grass areas prevents those seed heads from developing and maturing.  Leaving native grass to grow through a season that ends with a single mowing can lead to areas where the cut grass piles or clumps, which is detrimental to any remaining seeds dropping from the cut stalks and making it to the soil. Further, this clumping of cut grass might actually “suffocate” some of the remaining grass.

Finally, established native grass stands that are not mowed are able to inhibit weed growth on their own and even help limit formation of prairie dog colonies.

Spread of grassland fires can be identified as one possible concern with not mowing the native grass areas.   In reality, mowing doesn’t actually reduce the fire risk. In fact, mowing can concentrate the fuel load at ground level and lead to a hotter fire than if the grass was left standing.  While any dormant or extremely dry grass can burn, the seed mix used in Inspiration is also generally viewed as being somewhat fire resistant.

Weed control can also be a concern in not mowing the native grass areas, especially since many weeds are prevalent in the area. Weeds add a complex dimension to the establishment of native grass stands.  Allowing some weed cover can actually be beneficial since it can help provide some wind protection and erosion control before native grasses can become fully established.   Depending on the chemical used, attempting to chemically control weeds can also be detrimental to the native grass.  Like mowing, equipment and even foot traffic involved in weed control can also disrupt soil and damage native grass plants.

The CAC recommends that any cost savings achieved from not mowing native areas is applied to an increased attention towards weed control. A specific goal should be to minimize the number of weed plants that are allowed to go to seed.  For annual-type weeds, preventing the seed heads from developing can eliminate that weed from the area in the next season. For perennial-type weeds, preventing the seed heads from developing can at least help prevent more of that weed from appearing.

The CAC recognizes that conditions can vary and the needs and opinions of the community can vary.  Therefore, the CAC opinion and recommendation on mowing in native grass areas should be re-evaluated on an annual basis, preferably before the budgeting cycle preceding each growth season.


Large stands of native grass – Do not mow

Native grass adjacent to trails and sidewalks – Continue to mow beauty bands directly adjacent to the trail or sidewalk.  These beauty bands are aesthetic but are also primarily intended to minimize native grasses and weeds from impeding on the trail or sidewalk.

Native grass adjacent to fence lines – For the purpose of establishing healthy stands of native grass, the CAC recommends not mowing native grass adjacent to fence lines.  Areas with a high number of resident complaints regarding not mowing adjacent to their property should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Areas that are prone to erosion or where slopes or tight turns might lead to soil being disturbed from mowing equipment should generally not be mowed.


Reduced Maintenance Grass Areas for HOAs – Colorado State University

Native Grass Management – Castle Pines Metropolitan District

No Mow, Let It Grow – Evans, Colorado Parks & Recreation

No-Mow Policy – City of Greeley