The City maintains Guelph’s natural meadows by mowing portions of them annually throughout the months of August and September.
Natural meadows are an important feature of Guelph’s biodiversity and natural heritage, offering urban habitat for rare bird species like bobolink and eastern meadowlark, as well as many pollinating insects that need meadows and open grassland to thrive.
Unlike rural meadows, which experience natural wildfires or agricultural grazing to maintain them as grasslands, urban meadows need help to control invasive plants and prevent them from turning into forests over time.
Annual mowing using a rotational approach in these areas does not damage native plants and flowers. In fact, it reduces competition from non-native plants while stimulating the growth and spread of native plants. The City is monitoring the meadows and taking an adaptive management approach to their annual maintenance. This approach includes combining mowing with other meadow management and enhancement techniques as needed in these areas (including planting additional native plants) to enhance overall biodiversity and habitat value for wildlife that depend on meadows.
We’re committed to balancing the need for more urban forest canopy city-wide and maintaining existing meadows in places that are the right size and location. Maintaining a network of different types of natural habitats enhances biodiversity across the city.
How we’ll protect birds, wildlife and insects
Meadow maintenance only starts after ground-nesting birds and wildlife have stopped breeding for the season. We use rotational mowing in these areas so that only a portion of each site is mowed each year, this means there are always areas left un-mowed to provide refuges for wildlife. This technique also ensures each section is only mowed every few years, leaving enough time for plants to regenerate and thrive When mowing begins, we use higher mowing settings to avoid leaving the ground bare and to protect wildlife.
How you can protect urban meadows
- Use your yard waste collection bags to get rid of garden clippings, seeds, plants and shrubs so they don’t spread to nearby meadows.
- Plant native plants in your yard, so that invasive plants don’t spread from your yard into nearby meadows. Check out Guelph’s Healthy Landscapes program for free advice on pollinator-friendly gardening.
- Keep your dog leashed in natural areas to protect ground-nesting birds and wildlife.
- Get involved in local naturalization planting projects at guelph.ca/events.
For more information