Our Earth Month sustainability series is made possible by the support of Friends of the Big Sioux River. They're celebrating Earth Day with a new release of Big Sioux Brew and river clean-up events throughout the watershed. Learn more about their mission here.

Simplified: A new partnership between the city and the Minnehaha Conservation District will bring more native grasses and flowers to Sioux Falls lawns. Here's what you need to know.

Why it matters

  • Native grasses and flowers have deeper root systems, which means they're better for the soil. That helps prevent erosion, soak up water and better treat water that runs through.
  • The Prairie and Pollinator Garden program will make it easy for residents to incorporate native plants into their existing landscaping. Kits available for purchase include seed packets as well as an instruction booklet.
  • The program is in a pilot stage this year, but the hope is to learn from the early adopters this summer and continue for years to come. ย 
"This is just another pathway for urban residents to play a role in supporting natural resources," Sustainability Coordinator Holly Meier said.

Tell me more about the kits

Kits include:

  • seeds for a 100-square-foot plot,
  • a sign to educate neighbors about the Prairie and Pollinator program,
  • and an instruction booklet.

The booklet is aimed at helping residents distinguish the native plants as a landscaping feature. It advises installing some sort of mulch or edging to create a border around the grasses.

The kits were developed in part with the help of Augustana University graduate Mia Werger, who started a similar program as part of a school project last spring.

How will this help bees and other pollinators?

The more native grasses and flowers around, the more options bees, butterflies and other pollinators will have to stop and rest as they move from A to B.

"Youโ€™re creating areas so that they have an extra spot so they can stop," said Alina Hedman, urban conservation education coordinator with the conservation district. "So maybe more of them will survive as they continue forward to the next area."

What about city rules for grass height?

The native grasses and flowers included in the seed packet could grow up to 18 inches tall, Meier said.

  • But as long as they're a feature of the landscaping and properly tended to (i.e. no massive weeds) they won't run into any problems with city ordinances for grass height.
"Itโ€™s not an excuse for folks to let traditional turf grasses grow out longer than the 8-inch rule, but this is an intentional, aesthetically pleasing landscape feature," Meier said.

How can I get a kit?

Kits are expected to be available in the coming weeks. They'll cost $15 and can be purchased through the Minnehaha Conservation District.

Want to be the first to know when they're ready? Sign up to receive the city's sustainability newsletter.