The Chester County Facilities and Parks Department is establishing warm season grass (WSG) meadows at various locations in Exton County Park. The first step is to remove the cool season grass and forbs via fast-acting herbicides applied in full consideration of safety and health to park visitors and the natural resources. One result of the preparation process is dead, brown grass and forbs, which is admittedly unsightly. The aesthetic quality of the sight will improve in time.
A mixture of native warm season and flower species will be planted at the rate of 10 pounds per acre using a special seed drill on loan from the PA Game Commission. The warm season grass seeds are very light and not as dense as the cool season grass seed you may use to establish your lawn. Therefore, drilling the seed via this specialized equipment greatly enhances seed germination.
WSG seed can germinate in 10 days or it may take over a year to grow. Once germination has taken place, it typically takes 2-3 years for the meadow to establish a diverse habitat. Properly managed, a stand of warm-season grasses can last for decades with very little effort, as compared to cool season turf grasses.
Why Warm Season Grasses?
The establishment of native warm season grass meadows provides numerous benefits to wildlife, water hydrology and quality. WSG’s are an aesthetically pleasing and diverse habitat providing food as well as great cover for many bird and mammal species. The root system on these grasses can be as deep as 12 feet below ground level verses 4-6 inches for their cool season relatives. The total area for establishment at Exton Park is three acres, and will reduce maintenance costs remarkably by minimizing mowing frequency from 20+ times per year to an annual event. The planting areas will look barren until seeds germinate. We ask for your patience for the good things to come for you and the local wildlife to enjoy.
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