Natural Landscapes in Urban Settings: A Regulatory Jungle

in HortScience

Thousands of property owners annually attempt to develop a natural landscape on their property. Annually, thousands of people are cited for violation of “weed laws,” nuisance laws, subdivision covenants, and other local ordinances. Often, these regulations allow the city to mow the “weeds” first and follow up with fines, bills, and other legal actions. How reasonable are these requirements? What is the basis of the regulations? How do they vary by state and locality? Is every property required to have a smooth, unbroken bluegrass lawn? A variety of case studies across the midwest shows much local variation in both the wording of the ordinances and local tolerance for diversity of landscaping goals. The most successful responses require considerable planning and effort, and the least successful attempts are simplistic “no more mowing” declarations.

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