Thinking of planting earth-friendly landscaping?

If you’re looking for a way to help the environment and be creative with your yard, installing earth-friendly landscaping can be a great idea. These sustainable options include things like native grasses, rain gardens, and wildflowers. With a traditional lawn, most people use large quantities of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and weed control. While these things keep your lawn looking good, they can have a negative impact on the environment, especially when they run off into lakes, river, and streams. Earth-friendly landscaping can reduce the impact your lawn-care efforts have on the environment.

To learn more about environmentally-friendly landscaping, visit Hennepin Countys sustainable landscaping web page. It includes an "earth-friendly home landscaping guide," earth-friendly lawn care tips, and much more to help you get started.

In Minneapolis, sustainable landscaping is encouraged as part of the effort to improve our environment. Many City properties use native plantings and grasses in their landscaping, including the City Hall and Target Center green roofs, as well as the new Hiawatha Public Works Maintenance Facility. Many residents throughout the city have successful, well-maintained eco-friendly landscaping that brings many benefits to the neighborhood.

Although an environmentally-friendly landscape can save you time and money, it is not a "no-maintenance" landscape. It’s important to maintain it as you would any other kind of lawn. This means it needs to be cared for so weeds don’t spread on your property or to your neighbors’ yards.

Minneapolis enforces property and livability standards throughout the city, and that includes making sure lawns are trimmed and maintained. If a property is in violation, the City sends out a notice to allow property owners to fix the problem or call in to discuss the issue. Although there is an eight-inch height limit for traditional lawns, your native grasses and plantings are just fine as long at they’re weeded and taken care of.

Because it’s not always obvious that a yard is made up of non-traditional grasses, it’s a good idea to post a sign so your neighbors and City inspectors will understand the types of plantings you have. A sign will also help educate your neighbors about sustainable practices they may want to consider adopting. If your yard is not posted and you get a notice from the City, just call the number on the notice and let inspectors know about the type of lawn you have.

In addition to using sustainable landscaping on its own properties, the City of Minneapolis also provides incentives to residents to lessen their yard’s impact on the environment. Property owners can get stormwater utility fee credits for installing rain gardens and green roofs, and the City sponsors annual workshops on installing rain gardens.

For more information on Minneapolis sustainability work, visit the sustainability web page.

Published Jun. 4, 2010