Why Native Prairies Make Sense in Our Modern World

If the first thought that comes to mind when native prairies are suggested for your landscape is long, billowing grasses on frontier land—we’ve got news. Today’s native prairies are tall, short, blooming, grassy, attractive and provide a highly beneficial textural backdrop for your Chicago property.

Today, we find native prairies cropping up in urban spaces, corporate parks, retail properties and residents’ own back yards. At Bluestem, we are specifying native prairies for landscape installation projects for a number of reasons that we’ll explain here. We’re excited about the wide range of native prairies available now, which provides a broad, ecologically-minded plant palette suitable for all types of landscapes.

Managing and Filtering Storm Water

Stormwater run-off is a big problem for commercial properties, and retention ponds serve the purpose of collecting the run-off but do not address water quality. Alternatively, native prairies can help with both managing and filtering storm water, because they consist of deep-rooted plants that really take hold in the soil compared to turf. This means native prairies hold more water, which keeps moisture in the soil as opposed to ushering it to retention ponds or storm sewer drains.

Also, native prairies do the critical service of acting as a water filter. When water runs off of hard surfaces, including roof footprint, they pick up debris and toxins before running into sewer drains and retention ponds. Prairies slow down run-off and help filter impurities, improving water quality.

Returning Beneficial Birds and Insects to the Habitat

Native prairies are important food sources for beneficial birds and insects, including butterflies and, especially, bees. Our ecosystem depends on the work of these creatures for activities like pollination. Also, when “good insects” populate a property they squelch out the bad guys that can cause diseases in the landscape. Prairie grasses invite nature’s important players to your Chicago commercial property, building a strong ecosystem in your landscape so it is more sustainable.

Improving Soil Quality and Structure

Because native prairies are deep-rooted plants, they retain more moisture than turf. Prairies’ ability to hold water in the soil is advantageous, especially on stretches of land where irrigation can be expensive, and areas where exposure to the elements can make the land more vulnerable during extremes (drought times, freezing temperatures).

Controlling Sound and Reducing the Heat Island Effect

Native prairies absorb sound from highways, traffic and the urban environment. The result is a more peaceful landscape that people who work, live and play on the property can enjoy. Also, these plants help regulate temperatures that rise in areas surrounded by concrete and asphalt — known as the heat island effect — by providing a buffer of hardy foliage and retaining much-needed moisture in the soil.

Reducing Landscape Maintenance

Mowing and rigorous maintenance is not required for native prairies, which are designed to grow “wild” and free. (We tame the grasses as opposed to maintaining them.) Over time, mowing and rigorous maintenance is not required for native prairies because they are designed to grow naturally. Therefore, commercial property owners can save on their landscape maintenance once prairie systems are developed.

Native Prairies are a Sustainable Solution

Today’s prairie systems give property owners choice: tall and short grasses, wildflowers and a range of plants that add color, texture and year-round interest to your Chicago landscape. They’re visually appealing and beneficial to the ecosystem, and your budget.

Let’s talk more about how we can help you to introduce native prairies to your commercial landscape as a modern approach to improving the quality and integrity of your property. Call Bluestem any time at 815.568.2927.