Open Space and Natural Area Maintenance
The Arvada Parks, Open Space, and Golf Course Maintenance divisions take great pride in maintaining both our irrigated and non-irrigated lands. Safety, aesthetics, and adherence to the City's park maintenance standards are our top priorities.
In an effort to maintain the health and aesthetics of the City's natural areas and trail corridors, the City of Arvada has adopted a sustainable native landscaping approach for Open Space and natural areas within the city, including its two golf courses, West Woods and Lake Arbor. This practice is similar to policies that other municipalities have enacted and is recognized as a best practice in Open Space maintenance. Sustainable native landscaping considers environmental sustainability, wildfire risk reduction, and resource efficiency.
Mowing Frequency and Schedule
Large Open Space and Natural Areas:
- Only some of the City's large Open Space and natural areas are mowed.
- Size, access and feasibility determine if these areas are mowed, and how often.
- Large Open Space and natural areas that are able to be mowed are mowed approximately every three to five years.
- Greenway areas are frequently located between trails and private properties, or between parks and other greenspace areas.
- Greenway areas are mowed once a year, in the late fall or early winter, around the first frost of the season.
- Mowing greenway areas around the first frost of the year helps the native plants in those areas to seed.
Trails and Fence Lines
- Open Space areas bordered directly by private properties and along trails are mowed more frequently, between three to five times a year.
- The first mowing along trails and fence lines occurs in the late spring or early summer after the first big flush of growth when temperatures are consistent enough to support regular plant growth.
- Areas along fence lines or trails are mowed to approximately 5 to 8 inches in height and a minimum of 6 feet wide.
- The area that is mowed along fence lines is called a Courtesy Cut.
- The area that is mowed next to trails is called a Trail Cut.
Golf Course Native Areas
- Arvada's two city-operated golf courses, West Woods Golf Club and Lake Arbor Golf Course, implement the same sustainable native landscaping approach.
- Native areas along fence lines and trails are mowed three to five times a year to a height of approximately 5 to 8 inches.
- All other native areas are mowed once a year, in the late fall or early winter, around the first frost of the season.
- Both West Woods and Lake Arbor are certified members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf (ACSP). Though their ACSP membership, both courses have implemented environmental management practices that enhance existing natural habitats and landscaping to promote wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
Sustainable Native Landscaping Areas
Open Space and native areas are important places of special use for Arvada's wildlife and conservation interests that are different from neighborhood parks and athletic fields in use and maintenance. These areas are non-irrigated lands that receive water only from rain and snow and would exist as-is in their natural condition if left undisturbed by humans. They include designated native grass landscapes, designated natural areas, wildlife resting / habitat and trail corridors along with undeveloped city-owned open space properties.
Sustainable Native Landscaping Benefits
- Native grasses are able to regenerate naturally by propagating their own seed.
- Native grasses support wildlife by providing food and cover.
- Many urban wildlife species, like coyotes or raccoons, are less likely to be pushed into neighborhoods as unmowed native grasslands provide preferential food and shelter. This may reduce occurrences of human / pet and wildlife conflicts.
- Native grasses help promote the return of other native plants and animals, including threatened and endangered species. This supports a balanced ecosystem by increasing biodiversity.
- Pollinators, such as native bumble bees, benefit from these policies which provide habitat and places for them to rest and have a meal. Colorado has 946 native bee species, some of which rely on undisturbed grasslands to nest.
- Healthy native grasslands filter pollutants from stormwater run-off.
- Local air quality is improved through reduced fuel emissions from mowers.
- When allowed to grow to a natural height, native grasses reduce non-native weed growth.
- There are reduced chemical impacts on our environment due to the elimination of fertilizer use and fewer weeds.
- Healthy, tall, non-dormant native grasses act as a "water reservoir" and provide a level of defense against a stronger-intensity wildfire. A sustainable landscaping approach to open space maintenance does not increase fire risk.
Negative Impacts of Frequent / Untimely Mowing
- Mowing too frequently can result in high levels of insect mortality, including many native bee and pollinator species that local gardeners and agricultural groups rely on.
- Frequent mowing can disperse local wildlife into neighboring residential areas as they seek food and shelter.
- Untimely mowing can reduce native seed dispersal, which increases the likelihood of noxious and invasive weeds out-competing native plant species.