Greenways

What is a greenway?

Greenways 
Greenways are corridors of land and water that serve as connectors for wildlife and people.

  • Lexington has a comprehensive greenway network that the city manages.

 

Trail greenways

  • These public trails are designed to connect people to each other and key places like parks, schools or shopping areas. 
  • They are great for strolls and wildlife watching.
     

Conservation greenways

  • These are naturalized areas with native grasses and wildflowers.
  • Their primary purpose is to protect and improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

Managing greenways

Invasive species

Invasive species are 1.) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and 2.) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. What are invasive species? 

Native species

Using native plant species within greenways, natural areas, and private landscape areas has many benefits (as described below). The City of Lexington’s Division of Environmental Services requests that only native species be planted on city property (Greenway Encroachment Application required). Below are specific resources on what is considered native to Kentucky. 

If you are looking to create a native garden and don’t know where to begin, take a look at the Plant by Number webpage for some great ideas.

Benefits of native plants
Low maintenance: Once established, native plants generally require little maintenance.

Beauty: Many native plants offer beautiful showy flowers, produce abundant colorful fruits and seeds, and brilliant seasonal changes in colors from the pale, thin greens of early spring, to the vibrant yellows and reds of autumn. 

Healthy Places for People: Lawns and the ubiquitous bark-mulched landscapes are notorious for requiring profuse amounts of artificial fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has 10x more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are not only helping wildlife, but you are creating a healthier place for yourself, your family, and your community. 

Helping the Climate: Landscaping with native plants can combat climate change. In addition to the reduced noise and carbon pollution from lawn mower exhaust, many native plants, especially long-living trees like oaks and maples, are effective at storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. 

Conserving Water: Because native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions, they require far less water, saving time, money, and perhaps the most valuable natural resource, water.

Wildlife: In addition to providing vital habitat for birds, many other species of wildlife benefit as well. The colorful array of butterflies and moths, including the iconic monarch, the swallowtails, tortoiseshells, and beautiful blues, are all dependent on very specific native plant species. Native plants provide nectar for pollinators including hummingbirds, native bees, butterflies, moths, and bats. They provide protective shelter for many mammals. The native nuts, seeds, and fruits produced by these plants offer essential foods for all forms of wildlife.

Approved native species

Right tree, right place

Planning ahead is important when you are thinking about planting a new tree. People often plant trees without thinking about how large they will grow once they mature. It’s difficult to imagine that the six- or eight-foot tree you plant today could grow as tall as 80 or 100 feet over time.

Check out these resources to determine what type of tree you should plant.

Living by a public greenway

You get the natural and social benefits of this amenity right next door. Help us take care of it. It’s easy!

  • ENJOY the public greenspace.
  • KNOW where your property line is located.
  • DO NOT MOW or alter greenways.
  • DO NOT INSTALL personal property (i.e., play equipment, fences, gardens) on public land unless you have an encroachment agreement.

How to check property lines

You can confirm the location of your property lines by looking at the Property Value Administrator’s parcel map. Visit the PVA Office's site and enter your address at the top of the page.

Related information

Master Plan

Offers recommendations for a greenway system that will provide opportunities for protection and enhancements.

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