Thursday, November 7, 2013

City ordinances being revised to facilitate native landscaping

Municipalities across the Midwest are beginning to incorporate native landscaping in an effort to conserve resources, purify air and water, enhance aesthetics and preserve a high quality of life. However, native landscaping goals often conflict with existing nuisance laws, resulting in a new generation of weed and plant ordinances being enacted to help communities overcome regulatory hurdles and enact native landscaping objectives providing clear and scientifically sound landscape restrictions.

Most Prohibitive <---------------------------------------------> Least Prohibitive

All “weeds” over an arbitrary height are restricted. Natives are not distinguished from weeds.
Homeowner’s natural landscape is approved once application is approved by a majority of neighbors or by governing body.
(Green Bay, Wis.) (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) (Gladstone, Mo.)
Modifying clause in nuisance ordinance grants permission for native landscapes without application approval by neighborhood or governing body.
(Lawrence, Kan.)

The use of native landscapes is actively promoted and no application is required for native plantings.
(Minneapolis, Minn.) (Cincinnati, Ohio) (Chesterfield, Mo.)

Native landscapes are actively promoted while non-native vegetation is restricted.

In April 2012, the Green Bay City Council extensively revised its ordinance dealing with weeds and the maintenance of vegetation to recognize the importance of native plants and natural landscaping. It also adopted setback requirements and established an appeal process.
This fall, the Common Council of the nearby community of Neenah, home of Wild Ones national headquarters, was persuaded to reconsider it's regulations after adverse publicity about a homeowner was fined for refusing to cut down the area she had planted to provide habitat for butterflies in her yard. The unanimous vote allows homeowners to legally grow milkweed, the host plant for monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillar, in their gardens without threat from the city. Under Neenah’s previous ordinance, milkweed taller than 8 inches had to be destroyed.  Neenah joins Appleton, Kaukauna, Menasha and Oshkosh as cities that allow milkweed. Little Chute, Berlin and Omro are among at least 21 Wisconsin communities that continue to classify it as a noxious weed.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative. This post makes me contemplate and compare the merits versus pitfalls of non-native landscaping. I agree that nuisance ordinances must be updated to further suit the current trends on native landscaping but I do hope that we find a way to balance the different sides of the spectrum. One way that I could think of to make that happen would be having options if ever I want my yard to be done professionally. Wouldn’t it be better if we can harmoniously integrate native plant life with a non-native landscaping project? Well, those are my thoughts, care to share yours?

    Christopher @