State to test eco-friendly lawn on Capitol Campus in 2016

The Department of Enterprise Services will conduct an “ecolawn” pilot project on parts of the Capitol Campus grounds starting in April 2016.

There are several types of ecolawns but the term generally refers to the use of slow-growing grasses, clover and low-growing perennials. Generally, the species of grasses grown in an ecolawn are different than those used in a conventional lawn.

An ecolawn requires less mowing, irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide use compared to a typical lawn. Since an ecolawn is mowed infrequently, or not at all, another benefit is less organic material being sent to a landfill or composting facility.

Enterprise Services is conducting the pilot project as part of a broader effort to:

  • Reduce water, fertilizer and pesticide use on the campus.
  • Reduce the amount of contaminants in campus stormwater runoff.
  • Increase the biological and visual diversity of the campus grounds.
  • Put in place parts of the historic 1920s Olmsted landscape plan for the west campus that called for a meadow-like transition area between nearby streets and the formal landscaping planted near the Capitol Building. See the Historic Landscape Preservation Plan for details.

The pilot project will be conducted at several campus locations. At some sites, the existing grass will be allowed to grow out. At other areas, the Enterprise Services campus grounds staff will remove existing vegetation then replant the area with an ecolawn seed mix consisting of fescue grasses, white clover and a variety of annual and perennial flower species. Signage with information about the project will be placed at the test plots.

The grounds staff will hand-pull some weeds from the ecolawn sites. The staff time saved by not regularly mowing the ecolawn areas will be used to do other high-priority landscape work on the campus.

Enterprise Services grounds staff have already begun to remove existing vegetation in preparation for the planting of the special ecolawn seed mix in early April.

As part of the pilot project, Enterprise Services will seek public feedback about the ecolawn being tested on the campus.