Micro Clover Pilot in Nolan Hill
May 17, 2023 Update:
Several folks have asked me for an update on the clover pilot project in Nolan Hill that commenced in 2022. I spoke with Calgary Parks to see how the project is going and what to expect for the upcoming summer.
The City of Calgary is testing several options for non-turf coverage, which includes yarrow, clover, and other pollinator-type plants that are native to the area. Some have worked, and some have not been so successful, which is why we run tests in advance to see which methods will work the best for our neighbourhoods. This year, we will be doing another round of planting to establish the microclover, and our friends in Calgary Parks will assess the progress throughout the summer.
Earlier this summer season, our office was notified by many citizens in Ward 2 who were concerned with the lack of landscaping maintenance in their communities. As I took a drive around Ward 2, I saw firsthand what many folks were commenting on - overgrown turf and overrun weeds taking over the fields and boulevards – mainly dandelions.
My office and I held several discussions with the leaders in Parks & Open Spaces to share the frustrations we have been hearing. During our conversations, we were also made aware that the reasons behind the delay in mowing was due to staff shortages, equipment challenges (due to supply chain issues), as well as a pause in the mowing cycles due to the inclement rain we had seen. To read the full update on this recent situation, please check out my previous blog at /content/www/en/home/council/ward-2/articles/grass-cutting-and-landscaping-maintenance-update.html.
Knowing that dandelions pop up every season, and knowing that Parks won't spray dandelions for cosmetic reasons, I wondered if planting clover seeds would help mitigate the situation, as clover is known to crowd out dandelions. During a meeting with the Manager of Parks, we suggested this idea, offering Nolan Hill as a pilot community. The Integrated Pest Management team was then tasked to look further into the likelihood of implementing this.
I am pleased to announce that as I write this update, Micro Clover seeds are being planted in Nolan Hill. We will be trialing Micro Clover as an alternative to grass all along the centre median along Nolan Hill Drive NW. Parks has already begun seeding the boulevards with a water truck on site, and watering everything that has been planted. They chose this site because over the last few years, they have re-seeded and top dressed this center median several times, but this area still becomes overgrown with weeds, and the grass doesn’t grow well on the centre medians due to the road salt from winter.
The anticipated completion date for seeding is end of day this coming Thursday. Huge kudos to the Parks team for being so quick and efficient with this request!
Micro Clover pros:
- Micro Clover is dog pee resistant and salt tolerant;
- It can handle human and pet traffic;
- It fixes its own nitrogen so requires less fertilizer;
- It is reasonably drought tolerant and will out compete weeds;
- Flowers encourage bees - this could be an extension of the Pollinator Boulevard project;
- Requires less mowing when established;
- Costs less than most turf grass per square metre; and
- Can be planted from mid-May to August.
Micro Clover cons:
- Requires irrigation to establish;
- Requires sand to be added as the seed is very small; and
- Flowers attract bees – while we know bees are great for biodiversity and pollination, some people don’t like them.
There are some hurdles that may make this challenging to implement on a wider scale, but this pilot will be a great way to figure out those hurdles and assess how we may be able to get over them at a low cost for this year. Please let me know your thoughts during this pilot, and hopefully if this proves successful, we can broaden the implementation to other communities.
*Photo Sources: www.whygoodnature.com and www.westcoastseeds.com
Categories: Dandelions, General