Streams + Watersheds

Overland Park has more than 70 miles of streams and rivers. It runs through multiple watersheds.

A watershed is an area of land in which all water, including rainwater, drains to a common waterway, like a nearby creek, river or lake.

Homes and businesses in Overland Park are part of the Turkey Creek and Blue River watersheds. Camp Creek, Wolf Creek, Coffee Creek, Tomahawk Creek, and Indian Creek in Overland Park flow into the Blue River.

Healthy Yards

Taking simple steps in your yard can improve water quality. Help keep Overland Park’s landscape both beautiful and healthy by

Stormwater Runoff

As stormwater runoff flows over land and impervious surfaces, it picks up sediment, contaminants, litter, nutrients, and other pollutants which then discharge, untreated, into the waterways within Overland Park.

Unmanaged stormwater could adversely affect these waterways by causing water pollution, stream bank erosion, and even flooding.

You can prevent stormwater pollution by following basic sustainability best practices around your home.

Natural Landscaping

Natural landscaping is the planned planting of prairie, woodland and wetland plants as an alternative to turf grass. It incorporates plant life native to our area, plants and flowers that existed here before turf grass lawns were introduced, that thrive with less traditional upkeep than is required of traditional landscaping.

Benefits

  • Once established, native plants require little watering and upkeep, greatly reducing watering, fertilizing and mowing costs associated with traditional lawns.
  • Natural landscaping improves water quality and prevents erosion, reducing the cost of stormwater
    management. Established plants also reduce air and noise pollution.
  • Native plants provide diversity and habitat, supporting local birds and wildlife. Song birds, bees,
    butterflies and other pollinators, all of which are beneficial, are supported by natural landscaping.

What To Expect

Native grasses may take up to five years to become fully established. The first fall after planting may appear unsuccessful, with sparse vegetation and abundant weeds. The second fall after planting there are scattered native grass seed heads here and there, and by the third season after planting a stand of native grasses begins to appear. By the fifth year, native grasses dominate with few weeds.

Maintenance

During establishment, mow natural landscaping twice a year, once in the late spring and early summer and again in the fall. This helps suppress weeds and controls woody brush, allowing the native plants to establish. Weed control is critical during this time, often requiring spot treatment with herbicides.

Once established, natives can out-compete most invasive species. You will generally only need to mow once a year to control woody brush.

Avoid mowing too frequently or mowing too short (less than 6-8 inches) as it weakens the native grasses and allows weeds to invade.

Types of Native Grasses

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Height: 4.0 – 6.0 ft
Spread: 2.0 – 3.0
Light: Full sun
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass

Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium

Height: 2.0 – 4.0 ft
Spread: 1.5 – 2.0 ft
Light: Full Sun – Light Shade
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass

Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans

Height: 3.0 – 6.0 ft
Spread (ft): 2.0 – 3.0 ft
Light: Full Sun
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass

Prairie Cordgrass

Spartina pectinata
Height: 3.0 – 8.0 ft
Spread: 4.0 – 7.0 ft
Light: Full Sun – Light Shade
Moisture: Wet
Warm season grass, spreads rapidly by rhizomes

Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum
Height: 4.0 – 6.0 ft
Spread: 2.0 – 3.0 ft
Light: Full Sun – Light Shade
Moisture: Medium – Wet
Warm season, clump grass with
sod forming by rhizomes

Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Height: 1.0 – 3.0 ft
Spread: 2.0 – 3.0 ft
Light: Full Sun
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass

Western Wheatgrass

Pascopyrum smithii

Height: 1.0 – 3.0 ft
Spread:
Light: Full Sun – Light Shade
Moisture: Medium – Moist
Cool season, aggressive sod forming

Side Oats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

Height: 2.0 – 4.0 ft
Spread: 1.0 – 2.0 ft
Light: Full Sun
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass, can be sod forming

Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua gracilis

Height: 1.0 – 2.0 ft
Spread: 1.5 – 2.0 ft
Light: Full Sun
Moisture: Medium – Dry
Warm season, clump grass

National Pollution Discharge Elimination System

Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming and other activities.

Overland Park minimizes stormwater runoff impact by implementing best management practices. These include:

  • developing a stormwater quality management plan
  • submitting an annual compliance report
  • maintaining compliance with the national pollution discharge elimination permit requirements.

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