Restoration of Prairie Grasses to the UIC East Campus

Timeline: Spring 2017-indefinite

  • Beginning in the Spring of 2017, after risk of frost in late April, UIC grounds crews can begin removing some of the current grass lawns at the eastern edges of campus and replacing them with Buffalo Grass Sod.
  • As funding becomes available to replace the other lawn areas, the Sustainability fund will decide which areas it would like to continue on with. Contingent on; the urgency of other projects and buildings that will be built possibly effecting grass cover, etc.
  • Due to the nature of this project, partnership with the groundskeepers at UIC is necessary. The budget the university sets aside for landscaping could also be used if the committee finds that water saving, low maintenance grasses will benefit the campus in the long run and allow the meeting of certain sustainability goals.

 

 

  • This project has its roots in a few areas. Foremost, Buffalo Grass is native to the prairie of the United States on which Chicago is built. This grass is native to this climate and thus fairs well through our often unpredictable weather patterns. It grows in such a way that it requires infrequent, if any, mowing and maintenance. It grows horizontally as opposed to vertically. This creates a huge savings of energy on campus considering the fuel that will be saved with less, if any, mowing of the lawns. As our campus obviously accommodates pedestrians, this grass tolerates traffic well.

         The ideals from which we draw the concept of liking having green grass come from England, where often cool damp conditions produce the greenest grass. Trying to replicate this in the harsher climates of North America has created huge wasting of water. Buffalo grass in particular ties into the environment of the prairie and is actually the sod out of which the pioneers made their sod homes. Its durability in this sometimes harsh climate is a sustainable, native, and beautiful addition to the lawns on our campus.

        

  1. A preliminary budget, based on cost estimates, and based on a beginning acreage of approximately 1 acre to test the positive effects of low mow, environmentally appropriate grass, a cost of about $38,000.

 

References:

Government of Manitoba; protecting and managing our future: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/wildlife/sar/pdf/buffalograss.pdf

Cost Estimates from Green Valley Turf company, Littleton, CO, USA.

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2 thoughts on “Restoration of Prairie Grasses to the UIC East Campus

  1. This is a beautifully laid out plan. There’s research and knowledge of this subject. I love the idea of a historical background to this prairie grass and it provides education to what was here before Chicago. It would be interesting to see if students could have an opportunity to get involved in the process of planting and carrying for this prairie grass. I believe there many students who would be interested in a project such as this.

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  2. This is creative! I think you should actually submit this. It’s an educational opportunity for people on campus to learn why the conservation of Illinois prairie land is important along with the history of prairies in Illinois. Loyola actually bought prairie land to do research on in Woodstock, Illinois. We could totally use our prairie land for research, too.
    Here’s more information on Loyola’s Resurrection Retreat Center: http://blogs.luc.edu/ilweekly/2010/08/18/loyolas-green-campus/

    Let’s be better than Loyola!

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