Weed Laws and Ordinances

Wild Ones supports weed laws that promote responsible native plant landscaping. This information is presented to assist you in your struggle to overcome non-sustainable ordinances and biases against native plants and natural landscaping.

Banning Lawnslawn

Schindler, Banning Lawns (2014) – Here is an excellent article recommended by Wild Ones Counsel Bret Rappaport as a great read and a compelling argument. It was written by Sarah Schindler, Associate Professor at University of Maine Law School, and originally published in the April 2014 issue of the George Washington Law Review.

New York City Embraces Natives

The biodiversity measure will actually decrease the city’s overall biodiversity in favor of nurturing native plants. It mandates that the parks department adopt a policy favoring plants native to New York over exotic plants, which can out-compete native species and drive animals dependent on them into extinction, on all city-owned property. Dozens of species of native grasses, flowers and trees are in decline throughout the city

Read the full New York Time article

Indianapolis brings on Sustainability

Mayor Greg Ballard and the Office of Sustainability want to encourage the use of storm water as a valuable natural resource instead of managing it as a pollution source. Read about their Rain Garden and Native Planting Area Program.

Vegetation Control Laws

This model municipal ordinance encourages the use of native plant communities as an alternative in urban landscape design. See also a sample amending ordinance.

Bret Rappaport and Bevin Horn’s article Weeding Out  Bad Vegetation Control Ordinances  is a “must read” for native landscapers in cities or suburban areas.

Local Sustainable Landscaping Control Ordinances

The federal courts have recently upheld an ordinance from Dane County, Wisconsin, banning use of lawn fertilizer and coal tar sealcoat products. Therefore, any city would be well advised to model their ordinance after that one.

Eden Prairie, Minnesota has an excellent example of a native plant ordinance .

Developing a Weed or Native Landscaping Ordinance

It is a municipality’s obligation to promote and encourage the control of invasive non-native plant species in the landscape. To learn how to help the municipality develop a new weed law, read the article presented in the July 2005 issue of Plants out of Place, the newsletter of the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin, page 9, entitled Developing Municipal Weed Laws written by Donna VanBuecken.

Pride, Science, Law

Produced by Wild Ones member Joy Buslaff, view a slide show covering these three aspects of natural landscaping—pride, science and law.

When Cities Grow Wild – Natural Landscaping from an Urban Planning Perspective

by John Ingram

For the most part, the tapestry of parks, private gardens and formal open spaces that make up the vegetated urban landscape are a disturbing reflection of an aesthetic preference and cultural tradition out of step with current environmental, ecological and societal realities.

Why? The landscapes are dependent on constant and expensive energy inputs to retain their cultivated forms. Their maintenance is responsible for considerable environmental degradation through the pollution it causes (lawn mower emissions, herbicide and pesticide run-off, etc.). And they perpetuate our dated cultural attitudes concerning nature in the city and the relationship between human society and the environment. In short, most urban green spaces suffer many of the same environmental shortcomings that the advocates of school ground naturalization use to justify their projects.

This is a strange fact. If we are trying to teach our youth to be good environmental stewards, should we not be teaching by example? Should not municipalities as the protectors and guardians of public and environmental health seek to apply the same successful programs to its own properties? Should not private homeowners reevaluate their own landscaping practices as a matter of public responsibility? Why should the benefits so clearly linked to naturalization be restricted almost exclusively to school grounds?

“When Cities Grow Wild – Natural Landscaping from an Urban Planning Perspective” addresses these questions and the larger issues to which they are related. In light of the successes of the school ground naturalization movement, it questions the value of the current urban landscape ethic, examines its associated environmental and economic problems, and makes the case for the adoption of naturalization, or natural landscaping as an alternative design approach that better reflects current ecological and fiscal realities.

You Don’t Have to Fight City Hall 

by Bret Rappaport

Realizing that municipalities have an obligation to promote and encourage native landscaping is the first step in getting what you want. Your job (our job) is to show local governments how and why native landscaping is good for everyone so they’ll stop working against us and start working with us.

Here’s how to get started:
You Don’t Have to Fight City Hall.
May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers.
The Johnny Appleseed Model of Getting Municipal Ordinances Passed.

Forbidding the Real Weeds 

by Peter Rice of the Division of Biological Sciences University of Montana – Missoula

A nuanced approach to getting rid of the weed ordinances is required to permit weed laws to respond to non-native invasives. Take a look at the cover article, Model weed law provisions 2008 Peter Rice, in the Center for Invasive Plant Management’s November 2008 newsletter. s Peter Rice is the Project Director for the Invaders Database System, a comprehensive database of exotic weed distribution records for five states in the northwestern U.S.

How One Person Can Help in a Small Way to Change the Course of a Non-Conservation-Minded World  by Charlotte Adelman

One person can make a difference. Every small step helps our environment.

 Local Press Releases and Reference Links

The Town of Greenville (Outagamie County, Wisconsin) has banned the use of phosphorus in lawn  fertilizers.

The Town of Oconomowoc (Waukesha County, Wisconsin) approved an ordinance banning the use by town residents  of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus. When you get to the web page, scroll down to find the phosphorus fertilizer article.

Jason Rohrer successfully appealed the ruling that his landscape was in violation of Potsdam Village  (County of St. Lawrence, New York) Code section 145-6  A & B, pertinently part: Section 145-6. Brush, grass and weeds.

City of Minneapolis passes ordinance permitting natural landscaping.

The Appleton Municipal Code (Wisconsin) covering Weeds and Wild Growth pays particular attention to fire safety.  See page 816, Sec 12-75 under Article III.

To find out what local municipalities have for noxious weed or landscaping laws, go to http://www.municode.com/. After you select the state and city you want, type in noxious weeds or landscaping into the search engine.

For a more in-depth discussion, see Bret Rappaport’s law review article. Anyone involved in a legal dispute about native plant landscaping will want to examine the case law and opinions in this review.

EPA: Green Landscaping:  Greenacres — The John Marshall Law Review

The John Marshall Law Review and comments from Past National Wild Ones President Bret Rappaport. The review includes:

EPA: Green Landscaping:  Greenacres

See what the Environmental Protection Agency lists as resources for green landscaping in the Great Lakes area.  See also a sampling of landscaping ordinances and other natural landscaping resources in the Great Lakes area.

Executive Order

On February 3, 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13112 (E.O.) which calls on Executive Branch agencies to work to prevent and control the introduction and spread of invasive species.