Native grasslands, also known as prairies, meadows or savanna (when trees are present), are grass dominated landscapes featuring a mixture of grasses, sedges, forbs and annuals.

  • Generally, these plantings will be approximately 70% grasses and 30% forbs.
  • Forbs and annuals tend to provide greater visual interest, and lending to greater public acceptance.
  • 90% native plants is a goal for these plantings, while 10% non-native adaptable plants is acceptable in most areas.
  • Weed pressure will be highest on edges of grassland, particularly where a mown edge is maintained.
  • Seasonal burning or mowing are required to maintain this landscape type, limiting pressure from invasives and woody plants. Additional weeding will be required during establishment and may be needed occasionally beyond establishment. See Levels of Care.

Native grasslands are preferable to mown lawns. These are recommended for any open areas with a minimum of 12’-0” width and length. Smaller areas should be considered as wildflower/ native beds and will be maintained more regularly.


  • A maintained edge is desirable where grassland meets turf shoulders. This prevents plants from falling over onto trail surfaces. Typical mowing practices, however, significantly increases weed pressure on edges, particularly by allowing sunlight to penetrate edges and reach exposed soils.
  • Low growing native mixes with large percentages of dry sedges like Pennsylvania sedge and cool season grasses like Canada wild rye should be seeded within the first 6’-0” to 8’-0” of the planting area.
  • This seed mix should have a significant percentage of flowering annuals (sunflowers, etc.) and more ephemeral, self-seeding perennials (coreopsis, etc.), see percentages below.

Core planting

  • A taller growing plant mix can be established within the core of the grassland. However, this must take into account the location of the planting area. In particular, taller grasses and forbs should be avoided in areas where visibility is a concern.
    • Trees can be incorporated into this layer of planting, but should be planted with consideration to maintenance. Trees should be typically occurring savanna species and should be fire tolerant if seasonal burning will be performed. If mowing will be the primary means of maintenance, trees should be of significant size at installation that they are visible to mowing crews at all times of the year.


  • LITTLE BLUESTEM Schizachyrium scoparium
  • SIDE OATS GRAMA Bouteloua curtipendula
  • PRAIRIE DROPSEED Sporobolus heterolepis
  • SWITCHGRASS Panicum virgatum
  • BOTTLEBRUSH GRASS Elymus patula
  • LAVENDER HYSSOP Agastache foeniculum
  • STIFF GOLDENROD Solidago rigida
  • SMOOTH BEARDTONGUE Penstemon digitalis
  • PURPLE CONEFLOWER Echinacea purpurea
  • THIMBLEWEED Anemone cylindrica
  • PARTRIDGE PEA Chamaecrista fasciculata
  • WILD LUPINE Lupinus perennis
  • LEAD PLANT Amorpha canescens
  • IRONWEED Vernonia spp.
  • PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER Dalea candidum
  • ASTERS Symphiotrichum spp.
  • COREOPSIS Coreopsis lanceolata
  • FALSE SUNFLOWER Heliopsis helianthoides
  • LIATRIS Liatris spicata, L. aspera
  • BEEBALM Monarda fistulosa
  • BLACK-EYED SUSANS Rudbeckia fulgida, R. missouriensis
  • FALSE BLUE INDIGO Baptisia australis