Wild Ones   Weed Laws and Native Plant Landscaping  

Wild Ones® supports weed laws that promote responsible native plant landscaping.

Vegetation Control Laws

Here is a model municipal ordinance encouraging the use of native plant communities as an alternative in urban landscape design, and 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.

For a more in-depth discussion, see Bret'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.

Local Weed Control Ordinances

Here is a model municipal ordinance encouraging the use of native plant communities as an alternative in urban landscape design, and a sample amending ordinance.

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.

Creve Coeur – St. Louis, MO Area: Weed Ordinances to Promote Environmentally-Friendly Planting Methods

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 Sec 12-75 under Article III.

In April 2012, the Green Bay (Wisconsin) 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. See Section 8.11 of Section 1 of the Green Bay Municipal code.

The Ohio City of Cincinnati enacted a new weed control law thanks to a group of determined citizens.

Developing a Weed 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. YOU ARE PERMITTED TO DOWNLOAD THIS VIDEO USING ANY NUMBER OF MEDIA DOWNLOADERS OR TO BROADCAST IT TO AN AUDIENCE VIA WIFI.

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 greenspaces suffer many of the same environmental shortcomings that the advocates of schoolground 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 schoolgrounds?

"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 schoolground 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, in the Center for Invasive Plant Management’s November 2008 newsletter. 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 recently banned the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers. See also their ordinance on weed control and landscaping in Town right-of-ways.

• The Town of Oconomowoc (Waukesha County, Wisconsin) proposed an ordinance banning the use by town residents of lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus.

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.

Portland, Oregon's new Invasive Plant Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project.

The Nature of Cities featuring Richard Louv author of "Last Child in the Woods" features sustainable landscaping efforts from around the world.  

EPA: Green Landscaping: Greenacres -- The John Marshall Law Reveiw

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

An Introduction to Natural Landscaping Movement
The Land Ethic
A History of Weed Laws and the Battle Over Them
The Reason for and Response to the Natural Landscape Movement
Some Villages Still Don't Get It
Where to Go From Here
Footnotes and Appendices


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 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.

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Updated: Nov 12, 2012.