This summer, the City converted two patches of reed canary grass at Community Park near the Vadnais Heights Commons into native perennials in partnership with the Vadnais Lakes Area Water Management Organization (VLAWMO).
Reed canary grass is an invasive species, planted by early settlers for livestock grazing. The trouble with this grass is that it spreads aggressively and forms thick stands in wetlands. These stands out-compete native wetland plants that would otherwise support wetland habitat and function. Because the stands are so thick, they trap more sediment than native plants, clogging wetlands with sand and debris. This grass is so good at growing virtually anywhere that it grows in the accumulated sediment and continues a cycle of filling in the wetland with sediment and more canary grass.
The new native planting at the Commons isn’t in a wetland, but it’s a switch that helps take better care of our wetlands by reducing the spread of reed canary grass. The new native plants are small and becoming established now. As they grow, they will develop deep roots that help hold soil in place, channel runoff into the soil, and provide valuable habitat for pollinators such as bees, moths, and monarch butterflies. To help educate visitors, interpretive signage was installed to identify the plants and illustrate the benefits of the project.
The City of Vadnais Heights regularly works with organizations like VLAWMO to promote these projects as they accomplish the multiple, aforementioned benefits. Further, this specific project highlights a great working partnership between the City and VLAWMO, and will help promote these practices further in our community. Grant funds are available from VLAWMO to help property owners build raingardens, stabilize banks and shorelines, install native plants, and assist with rain barrels; for more information please visit: www.vlawmo.org/grants/landscape.
Special thanks to community volunteers including Unity Church-Unitarian youth group for installation and upkeep. Check out the native plant garden next time you’re at the Vadnais Heights Commons, and consider adding something similar for your property!
Photo: Volunteers from the Unity Church-Unitarian youth group help remove the canary grass and plant the native species.