Ward 2 - Jennifer Wyness

Foxtail Barley

Foxtail Barley has spread rapidly throughout many communities in Calgary, and we’ve received many complaints in Ward 2 as foxtails are harmful to dogs – even life threatening without medical intervention. Though the plant may look innocuous, the sharp barbed seeds (awns) allow for easy attachment to fur, lodging itself to the mouths, ears, paws, nose, and skin of your pets. To learn more about foxtails and tips on preventing problems for your pets, please visit:

Foxtails are a native species and are unfortunately not classified as a noxious weed by the province. There are places in the city where there are more foxtails than in other areas. Typically, we see an abundance of foxtails where there is active construction as the construction activity disturbs the seed banks. In my conversations with Parks & Open Spaces, they confirmed that that this stabilizes over time when construction is complete and other vegetation takes over (typically turf). In the meantime, our office has been in touch with local developers to ensure foxtails are mitigated on their land through proper landscaping maintenance.

In terms of what we can do as a community, foxtails have short fibrous roots, making hand pulling of the weeds very effective. Residents may also begin to mow before the seeds set (May – June) to mitigate seeding from occurring in the later months of summer.

The next best thing folks can do is to call 311 if they see foxtails so the Parks team is aware of where they are. As you may have seen in the media, there have been a lot of recent focus on foxtails in Ward 12 as they had the most supporting 311 data. I would also encourage you all to please submit your 311 requests to areas in Ward 2 where you are seeing an influx of foxtails.

Parks & Open Spaces are currently trialing a pilot in the south to help manage this plant, and are working with other internal services to create a plan to address foxtail in certain parks based on 311 data on trouble spots. As there are varying types and uses of parks identified, they are looking at tailoring an approach for each site with a combination of maintenance, mechanical, chemical, and horticultural practices. Parks will also be incorporating a trial of micro clover along with seed mixes to establish a competing strain of grass in some locations. Each site will be monitored regularly throughout the year with increased mowing and bagging of foxtail where required, herbicide will be applied where appropriate and aeration, top-dressing, and watering will be used to encourage the growth of seed mixes applied throughout the year. As we recognize the issue is not just in the turf areas, Parks will be paying attention to shrub beds in the parks and will have staff monitor, cut, and bag foxtail where seen. I look forward to receiving the updates that arise from this pilot, and will push to have this integrated in Ward 2 if proven successful. 

Please continue to contact my office with your 311 SR#s so we are aware of where the trouble spots are in Ward 2. I thank you all for your continued patience and assistance as we work to protect our pets and green spaces.

Categories: Foxtail Barley, General, Parks, Tips