Bringing a Native Plant Meadow to Katonah
This press release appeared in the Record-Review on May 14, 2021.
The Katonah Memorial Park Association and Healthy Yards will work with the Town of Bedford to bring a small native plant meadow to the Katonah Memorial Park this year. According to Bedford 2030, replacing lawn with native plants increases the amount of carbon the soil will hold and reduces the maintenance required which saves water and energy.
“By replacing very short nonnative lawn grasses with deeper rooted native grasses or plants, more carbon from the air can be converted and stored into the ground” said Karen Simons, Bedford 2030 Board Member and co-leader of their Drawdown initiative. “Deeper roots means deeper and more permanent carbon storage. Native plants also grow better, require less care, support biodiversity and, on a steep slope such as this site, reduce erosion.”
Pollinator gardens have long been of interest to Filippine Hoogland and Fiona Mitchell of Healthy Yards, and a conversation sparked about the possibility of a project in the Town of Bedford last fall. After learning more about roadside meadow projects that are frequently planted along highways, Healthy Yards began looking for a place to try this out in town. According to Town Board Member Ellen Calves, “We met with the Department of Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn and found that most roadside locations in Bedford are not suitable for this kind of planting, but there are some locations inside our parks that may actually be easier to maintain if they are planted with native grasses or native plants.”
Members of the Katonah Memorial Park Association and Healthy Yards worked with the Recreation and Parks Department to find a suitable location inside the park and are happy to support such a project. According to Hoogland, “We needed to find a place that was not already overrun with invasive species because we do not want this to require too much labor or chemicals to be a successful project.”
Superintendent of Recreation and Parks Chris Soi and Park Foreman Tom Megna identified an area of lawn behind the pool house that is steep and difficult to mow that may be just the right spot for native grasses or plants and as Hoogland explains, “won’t require a lot of water, will not need to be mowed more than once or twice a year, and will support butterflies.”
Katonah Memorial Park Association and Healthy Yards are investigating the seed mix that will be appropriate for this location. In the meantime, the Rec and Parks department will be maintaining the area in a way to prepare it for grass removal and planting in the fall. Bedford 2030 will have a chance to do soil tests to show how carbon content of the soil increases over the life of the project.
According to Calves, “This demonstration project will be a great way to highlight all the benefits of turning lawn into meadow. It will also showcase how our town is adopting greener landscaping practices and encourage residents to do the same.”