The line between a properly maintained yard and one that isn't just got a little clearer - or not - depending on your vantage point.  The City of Superior agreed to make changes to its ordinances to allow for the cultivation of native lawns and gardens - a move that helps the environment and improves wetlands and erosion.

The change - which goes into effect on November 15 allows property owners to grow and cultivate a "properly maintained" native lawn and garden.  A page on the city's website details what's allowed.  The ordinance reads as follows:

  • "Native garden” or “native lawn area”, as used in this section, shall mean the planting of species of grass and wild flowers native to North America which are purposely cultivated to exceed 8 inches in height from the ground in a clearly delimited area of a parcel. Specifically excluded from this definition are noxious grasses and weeds specifically mentioned in Wis. Stats. § 66.0407(1), in Wis. NR 40, and turf grass which are non-native to the region.
  • No area of vegetation that results from neglect, or other failure to maintain, shall constitute a “native garden” or “native lawn area."

Even a quick read of the new ordinance shows that the city is not condoning property owners to just allow their regular front lawn to turn into a mess.  The benefit of this type of gardening is in the root system; the type of lawn grass and wild flowers being allowed tend to grow deeper roots - which not only prevents soil erosion but also helps to soak up and reduce storm water runoff.