Our Campaign for Natural Landscaping

Through education and patience, a couple contests the legitimacy of lawn laws, and advocates for their property to serve as a lush wildlife haven.

The author fought to grow patches of plants, such as chicory, that some think of as weeds.

Several years ago, my husband and I decided to reduce the amount of lawn we were mowing. Our children had grown up and moved out, and we no longer needed a large area for playing catch or otherwise spending pent-up energy.

Our first decision was to mow pathways through the lawn, letting large patches grow meadow-like. Unfortunately, as much as we enjoyed the look, feel, and sound of this, we found that it was illegal. At the time, the Ohio Revised Code stated that our “lawn” could be no taller than 12 inches.

I tried laying it down flat, but I was told it was technically still too long and needed to be mowed. My heart broke as we had a friend mow it for us, laying waste to what had become a haven for bunnies and fireflies.

My new mission became learning all I could about the laws pertaining to private property gardens. We decided to intentionally create a more wildlife-friendly garden and produce more food for ourselves while staying within the law’s limits.

Slowly but surely, we’ve transformed those grass gardens into beds that host a growing diversity of plants — many of them native varieties. One of the biggest aids to this transformation was free mulch delivered through our arborists. The downside is that these arborist chips can contain black walnut, which is toxic to some plants. But a definite benefit is that we have a never-ending supply of chips to do with what we choose.

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