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Native Grasses

Native grasses are hardy plants indigenous to Manitoba that do not need to be watered, fertilized or frequently maintained. Their growth in public areas is managed by the City of Winnipeg, often by a controlled burn every five years or so. This helps to control weeds and allows the grasses to regenerate and different species of plants to bloom.

Native grasses are on many private properties as well. Some of these areas are under a vegetation easement which allow the City to access your property in order to do maintenance on the grasses. Homeowners are greatly encouraged to properly maintain native grasses on their property to ensure they thrive.

Caring for Native Grasses on Your Property

If you live with native grasses on your property, there are some dos and don'ts to keep them healthy

  • Cut your grasses about every 5 years to manage their growth. Only cut them in the fall with the mower set at 4” high. Be sure to remove the clippings and thatch after mowing so that the grass roots can get sunlight. Do not spread topsoil or dump other grass clippings on native grasses.
  • Native grasses do not do well in the shade. Avoid installing screens, sheds, or trees in areas that will block a lot of sunlight to the grasses. 

If you are doing extensive landscaping near your grasses, it’s best to consult a professional landscaper or gardening specialist on what to plant. 

  • Do not plant among the grasses as disturbing the soil can be harmful and cause weeds to grow.
  • Do not plant evergreen tree species near native grasses, but you can plant deciduous (leafy) trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and perennials nearby. 

The native grasses on your property are under a vegetation easement and must be appropriately maintained. Native grasses in public areas (i.e. adjacent to but not on your property) should not be removed or modified in any way.

Controlled Burns

A controlled burn is the best way to maintain the vitality of native grasses and should take place about every five years. It is exactly what the name says it is; setting the grasses on fire to burn them in a controlled manner. Only professionals should conduct controlled burns as they require very close care and attention.

Controlled burns mimic the natural regeneration process of native grasses. It removes excess thatch and can create changes in the frequency and distribution of the species in the mixed grass planting. When properly conducted, a prescribed burn ‘tightens up’ the native grass community, maintaining its ecological integrity.

Depending on the area, either Qualico Communities or the City of Winnipeg contract a professional company to conduct a controlled burn. Homeowners immediately adjacent to a controlled burn, or with native grasses to be burned on their property, will be notified in advance of the burn. As much as possible, Qualico Communities tries to notify the community at large of a burn.