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Site Selection

Site Selection for Grassland Community Restoration

One of the most important decisions to make in grassland restoration is where to plant new grassland communities.  These communities were found in only a few areas across Southern Ontario when the land was surveyed in the early 1800s (Fig 1 – map of historic occurrence).  Most of the landscape was covered in forest at that time.  Grassland communities are most often found naturally occurring on lighter (sandier) soils.  If your proposed site is not within the areas shown in Figure 1, consider either restoring a native community that was historically found in your area, or plant a grassland with the intention of allowing it to regenerate over time into forest.  This will work especially well if there is plenty of native woodland in your area. 

If you are considering Grassland community restoration at the landscape scale, following the guidelines below will lead to the most effective and successful projects.  

Priority 1: Buffers around, and connections between existing grassland remnant communities on suitable soils – restoration through planting or burning or a combination of both.

Priority 2:  On sites where grassland communities are known to have existed historically.  Either planting or burning or a combination of both may be required. 

Priority 3:  In regional grassland hotspots on suitable soils.

Priority 4:  Where suitable soils exist and the landowner is interested in planting grassland and there is funding – opportunistic.

Avoid

Planting grasslands where the soils are more suitable for alternate vegetation communities, or on sites where historical records clearly indicate that woodlands and wetlands were present.

The above suggestions are especially important when you are considering a larger scale restoration.  If you are thinking of planting a small grassland patch in your garden, local park, or schoolyard, then the following considerations apply.  First of all, there are species that are considered grassland plants that do grow in many different types of soil.  Refer to our ‘Planting the Seed’ guide, found on this website at:       to determine which plants are suitable for the soils on your site.  Second, consider the shade patterns in your yard.  Many grassland plants prefer open sunny areas, but some are adapted to live in savannah communities with scattered trees, very similar in vegetation structure to suburban landscapes.