The Q&A Archives: Subdivision Planting

Question: I am writing on behalf of our homeowners association. We have a 1/4 acre water detention area in our subdivision.
It was filled with cattails and wild plants (thistle, etc). The neighbors complained about noxious weeds, mosquitos and the cattails impeding water flow. So to make a long story short, they had the city plow and regrade the area to prevent water accumulation and are now talking about putting a pipe in to keep the water from making any dirt wet.

We are now stuck with a hot/dry area of land with no water. The neighbors think they can plant buffalo grass and water it by hand to get it started. 0ur understanding is that buffalo grass will be brown and dormant the whole season. Do you having any suggestions or what might be planted in this area?

Answer: Personally, I'd prefer to see cattails to dry dirt--and with cattails you might even get to see some heron or other water-loving birds!

Well, I guess it's too late now. Planting grass just means lots of watering, fertilizing, and mowing. You might consider planting wildflowers. There are a number of mixes available--I'd probably go with one that contains a mix of annuals and perennials. They are usually mowed once a year, in late fall, to help spread the seed.

Wildflowers--and any other planting--will require watering at first, but once established many wildflowers adapt well to dry conditions and will require much less water than a lawn.

Your cooperative extension may also have some ideas.

Also, you might consider planting the area as a wildlife habitat. Visit the National Wildlife Federation's website and see if you can find something to convince your neighbors to create a more natural and life-sustaining planting!

Good luck!

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