Naturalized Slope Provides Variety of Benefits to Murdoch Park in Bridgeland-Riverside


by City of Calgary Parks Department

A newly Naturalized section of Murdoch Park will increase biodiversity and reduce water use and pesticides as part of a trial project in the Bridgeland-Riverside community.

Work began in the fall of 2023 on a small section of the northern slope overlooking the sports fields. A mix of native grasses and wildflowers were planted to create a naturalized section within the park.

Naturalized areas benefit communities by:

• Increasing biodiversity to create landscapes that help support plant, animal, and insect life.

• Using less water from irrigation as plants are drought resistant once established.

• Reducing reliance on pesticides and fertilizers.

• Promoting mental health and relaxation by increasing access to natural areas and adding colour to a park space.

• Reducing maintenance and costs as naturalized areas do not need to be mowed.

The slope was selected as the existing turf had many bare patches and compacted soil. This made traditional landscape repair of the area difficult.

Using a locally grown, sod-like turf product, parks crews were able to install drought-resistant native grasses over the course of several days. Additionally, native wildflowers were transplanted along the slope to increase plant diversity and attract beneficial pollinators.

Using these pre-grown products allowed the bare soil of the slope to be immediately covered and protected from erosion. Weeds are also reduced by forcing them to compete with established grasses and flowers.

The current naturalized bed is approximately 1.2 m x 120 m long. Parks crews will monitor progress this spring and continue to naturalize bare spots on the top of the slope as needed. The lower portion will remain as traditionally maintained turf grass to be used as an additional sitting area.

Murdoch Park is located along Centre Avenue NE between 7A Street and 9 Street NE. The park is an integral part of the Bridgeland-Riverside community and consists of sports fields, basketball courts, sitting areas, open greenspaces, and a playground.

Question: Can we still sit on the grass of the escarpment?

The City will continue to mow the lower half of the slope where people can sit. The naturalized grass will grow taller, and it will not be an ideal place for sitting. The ropes along the sidewalk will come down once the naturalized grass is well established. People are encouraged to use the steps to access the field.

Click here to the Bridgeland Community News home page for the latest Bridgeland community updates.


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