Navigating local regulations in a garden

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Speaking to my friends and clients around the world, I have found that many gardeners are blocked by local regulations in their efforts to garden in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Homeowners associations (HOAs) and authorities often impose strict rules on what gardeners can and cannot do on their own properties.

Some local regulations can be beneficial, such as those prohibiting the use of certain problematic invasive plants, for example, and those that protect local wildlife. But unfortunately there are also outdated or short-sighted regulations that can be detrimental to local communities and the environment.

Most of the most common regulations I’ve come across relate to lawns – provisions on where clean lawns should be maintained and how often they should be mowed. As a Treehugger reader who wants to do the right thing, navigating local regulations like this can seem like a challenge at times.

Neat lawns compared to an indigenous and naturalist plantation

Local regulations in some areas strive to maintain manicured lawns. But well-mowed lawns are ecological deserts, which require a great deal of water consumption and often toxic chemicals to maintain themselves. In the interest of keeping neighborhoods clean and tidy, regulations can unfortunately harm the very communities they are meant to protect.

There is a misconception that native, naturalistic, wildlife-friendly planting always looks messy and messy. But creating more diverse planting programs to replace manicured grass lawns can bring many benefits to a community. The best solutions will depend on where you live.

Education is important

If, as an eco-friendly gardener, you find yourself in conflict with neighbors, HOAs, or authorities over how you want to plant or manage your garden, it may just be a simple case of educating others about what you want to do. To do.

It is perfectly natural for people to fear the unknown. But when we educate others about sustainable and eco-friendly gardening, it can become a lot more familiar. In fact, it may become the new normal.

Many of us are sometimes hesitant to be pioneers. We can fear being seen as different and hanging our heads above the parapet, so to speak. But change begins when the right people come together.

Reaching out to those who hold opinions different from ours can sometimes seem like a major challenge. But by remaining open about what we do or wish to do, we can educate others about the benefits of an eco-friendly approach to a garden.

The first step is to make sure we are aware of the local rules and regulations where we live. Where these regulations are out of step with the permaculture ethos of “protecting the planet, caring for people and sharing equitably”, we can explain to others why this is the case and advocate for it. ‘alternative.

Continue the conversation

When we come across a situation in life where we are not happy with the rules, it is common to feel that someone else will find a solution. But sometimes it’s important to recognize the power of our own voices. It’s important to recognize that we have more power to make a difference than we might at first imagine.

First of all, it’s important to avoid having an “us and them”, “right and wrong” mentality. We can’t change anything for the better unless we step up and keep talking.

Entering into a friendly dialogue with neighbors and people in positions of authority can often yield positive results. People just might not have seen it from your perspective. People and authorities are more open to change than you might imagine.

Even when there is disagreement, polite speech can result in compromises that work for everyone in the long run. The main thing is to explain clearly and pleasantly how what you want to do in your garden will not only benefit you, but also bring many benefits to the whole neighborhood.

If you get into gardening in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way, run for office, lobby to change the rules, or ask for an exemption, other gardeners may see the benefits of what you have done and follow suit.

So, don’t use local regulations as an excuse to continue practicing harmful practices. Feel empowered to fight for the changes you want to make and become an ecological pioneer for your community.


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