To mow or not to mow? Cape Town’s question

2011-08-19 10:49

Neat, mowed parks and verges or a display of newly-blossomed spring flowers?

This is the difficult decision the City of Cape Town faces as spring approaches.

“Cape Town has been experiencing a winter with periods of warm weather, which promotes the germination and rapid growth of many species of wild flowers and grasses across the metropole,” said Thandeka Gqada the city’s mayoral committee member for community services.

Grasses, and weeds in particular, thrive under these conditions and parks and sidewalks can start become untidy almost overnight.

Simultaneously, yearly spring flowers have started appearing in various public open spaces and open tracts of land within the city.

Their growth is cause for contention – should the areas be mowed to control growth or should the wild flowers be left undisturbed?

Many residents and visitors to areas where flowers grow contend that they should be left untouched and not mowed until the seeds have ripened and dropped.

However, this results in the grass eventually dominating the flowers.

In the past, City Parks curtailed the mowing of certain areas during the flowering period to allow the flowers to bloom and shed their seeds, but this proved problematic.

This year, City Parks managers will keep mowed areas tidy as a priority.

City Parks director Chantal Hanslo said some wild flower areas may be identified and mowed at a later date, but they would be clearly sign-posted.

“There are still many open areas throughout the city, including identified biodiversity or nature sensitive areas, where mowing does not take place and where spring flowers can be seen.

“City Parks will closely monitor the areas that are starting to look untidy staff and contractors will work overtime to limit or reduce any mowing backlogs,” she said.

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