There are two ways to look after a grassland site – mowing or burning. One has advantages and disadvantages over the other. The advantage of using mowing as a management tool is where there is a concern regarding the risk of using fire. Although fire has been typically used as the preferred management tool, burning requires special knowledge and experience. Even if you have the requirements to perform a prescribed burn, burning may be prohibited due to local by-laws or the location of the burn site could have a negative smoke impact on the surrounding area.
Mowing on the other hand, can be done by the same way you mow your lawn but with different techniques and timing. The advantage of applying fire is that it mimics how nature would look after a grassland. Fire eliminates weeds as well but also provides nutrients to the soil from the ashes left from the burnt grass. The blackened site welcomes the suns rays which raises the soil temperature and allows the native grasses to get a head start, before other vegetation starts to emerge. When to burn depends on your objective e.g. restore or to maintain or eliminate the species you are targeting.
There are plenty of support documents to help a grassland manager to conduct a Controlled Burn and there are private contractors that can deliver a controlled burn. Tallgrass Ontario can also help in the planning of a prescribed burn. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) Fire Advisor or your local OMNR Stewardship Council can also provide you with advice or direction on how to achieve a Prescribed Burn on your prairie/savanna site.
Tallgrass Ontario maintains the “RX100 Prescribed Burn Network” page on Facebook. This page will provide a current list of training opportunities, resources and information about prescribed burns that are conducted each season.
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/RX100-Prescribed-Burn-Network-1718945238330166/
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Information Pages:
Prescribed Burn Toolbox:
Prescribed Burn Manual:
Private Prescribed Burn Contractors: