Posted in: Ask a Lawyer, Homeowner tips

Can I have a pollinator lawn even if my city has yard restrictions?

pollinator-friendly yard

Homeownership can be complicated, but we also think it’s one of the most rewarding ventures out there. In our series Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer, we are hoping to demystify some of the trickier aspects of buying, selling and owning a home.

In this edition, one of our lawyers discusses how homeowners can follow their city’s lawn regulations even as they work to create an environment that is more hospitable for pollinators.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

This spring, I heard a lot about “No Mow May” and now I’m seeing a lot of news about having a pollinator-friendly yard. What does that mean, and am I allowed to create one, even if my city requires me to mow my yard?

This is a great and timely question. “No Mow May” is part of a larger movement to encourage people to maintain their yards in a way that protects the health of pollinators. No Mow May specifically encourages Minnesotans (and our other upper Midwestern neighbors) to avoid mowing their yards during the month of May to allow pollinators the best chance of success in the spring, as they leave winter hibernation and begin to seek food sources and habitation.

Of course, No Mow May is now squarely in the rear-view for this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t commit to creating the healthiest habitats possible for bees and other pollinators. In short, allowing native prairie grasses and other pollinator-friendly vegetation to thrive in your yard can provide a better ecosystem for pollinators than the traditional grass yard.

Exploring lawn regulations for your city

Many cities have nuisance laws that may limit what you can do to make your yard more pollinator-friendly. While regulations can vary, most cities have regulations regarding lawn appearance, and it is common to see ordinances place a maximum height for vegetation in a yard. Additionally, there are restrictions on the types of vegetation allowed. For example, “noxious weeds” are required to be removed under state law, so letting your yard run wild is likely not an option—even if you are doing it to help the pollinators.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be pollinator-friendly and follow the law at the same time. To promote “No Mow May,” for example, some cities took measures to pause the enforcement of grass length ordinances during the month of May. Other cities, including Rochester and Bloomington, have gone even further by adopting ordinances that allow for native prairie vegetation if certain conditions are met.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any comprehensive lists available that state which cities have allowances for native plants or pollinator lawns. However, you can check with your local government to learn what regulations are in place, and if there are any plans or current initiatives to promote pollinator-friendly lawns to local citizens.

Of course, city regulations are only part of the equation. If you live in a Homeowners Association, your HOA might have its own rules regarding the appearance of your yard. In that case, you will want to check your HOA rules before giving away your mower and converting your yard to a pollinator paradise.

Getting started with a pollinator lawn

Ready to get started? Whether you completely transform your lawn, make it more bee-friendly, or simply start with a few native plants, you’ll find that pollinators will be attracted quickly to your yard after the plants begin to grow.

The Edina Realty Legal Department serves as in-house counsel for Edina Realty and does not represent private clients. This Insight is not intended to provide legal advice.

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