Native Lawns and Gardens

Native Lawn Ordinance (Sec. 104-260(2)5)

Native grasses and wildflowers are increasingly used in gardens and landscaping. They are aesthetically pleasing, easy to maintain, and provide great water quality benefits due to the deep root systems and ability to infiltrate stormwater runoff while also providing habitat for pollinators and birds. A comparative illustration of the root systems of turf grass and native plants is shown below. Learn more about Native Lawns and Gardens in the sections below.

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Composting yard waste and food scraps (fruits and vegetables only) is another way to protect local streams and Lake Superior from nutrient laden runoff. Plus, it can provide your gardens with homemade, nutrient rich soil.

Learn more about Composting by following this link.


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Interested in installing a Native Garden on your property? Excellent! Below you will find  definitions, resources, and guidance documents to help in the process.

What IS a Native Lawn or Garden?

  • Planting of species of grasses and wildflowers native to North America
  • Purposefully cultivated to exceed 8 inches in height
  • Clearly delimited within a parcel by an edge or border

What ISN’T a Native Lawn or Garden?

  • Overgrown traditional turf grass
  • Nuisance to neighboring yards

Definition

  • "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."

Benefits of Native Lawn vs. traditional turf lawn

  • Adaptability: Native plants have adapted to the soils and local climates of the region and tolerate extreme weather patterns we experience.
  • Erosion control: Root systems are much longer than traditional turf grass. This allows native plants to provide better soil stabilization and collect far more rain water than non-native plants.
  • Low maintenance: Native plants, adapted to this region, do not require supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticide treatment for maintenance once they are established.
  • Biodiversity: Native lawns typically include a mixture of native grasses and wildflowers that attract birds and pollinating insects by providing a diversity of nectar, seeds, and pollen throughout the growing season.
  • Aesthetics: The mixture of native plants offer a variety of colors and shapes that provide great visual appeal.

There are many species of flowering plants and grasses that can be used in Native Lawns. Below are some examples of native plants that are well suited for Superior. 

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Native Grasses
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Useful Links

Learn more about native and invasive plants here or visit Wild Ones website.

For information about installing rain gardens visit the LakeSuperiorStreams webpage and Blue Thumb: Planting for Clean Water