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How to turn your yard into a managed natural landscape

Louisville’s Code of Ordinances allows managed natural landscapes — under certain conditions.

Trumpet honeysuckle

Trumpet honeysuckle is a beautiful native alternative to invasive honeysuckle varieties.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever wanted to swap your manicured lawn for a native plant garden, have we got the city ordinance for you.

Chapter 156.052 of the Louisville Code of Ordinances usually prevents vegetation over 10 inches tall, but you can get around that restriction by keeping a “managed natural landscape.” All you have to do is follow these guidelines:

  • The natural landscape must be set five feet back from the property line unless it abuts a similar property or a natural feature like a wetland or stream, or if a fence is built along the lot line.
  • Mow or cut back the area at least once per year in addition to ordinary maintenance.
  • Clearly define the area with a fence, garden edging, or two feet of mowed grass.
  • Your natural landscape can’t extend into the public right of way.
  • Post a sign advising that natural plants are being established.
  • Noxious weeds are not allowed — more details below.
  • Managed natural landscapes can’t be overgrown turf-grass lawns.

Noxious weeds are defined by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Think: Kudzu, Amur honeysuckle, marestail, and multiflora rose. Fortunately, there are plenty of native alternatives to these prohibited species.

LOU gardeners looking to build up a managed natural landscape should check out Dropseed Native Plant Nursery (1205 S. Buckeye Ln., Goshen) or the Kentucky Native Plant Society. You can also to one of these upcoming plant sales:

Yew Dell Botanical Gardens Plant Sale | 6220 Old Lagrange Rd. | Friday, April 26 + Saturday, April 27
This two-day event will feature annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and more, many of them grown on-site. Access to the plant sale is included with admission.

Louisville Zoo Spring Plant Sale | 1100 Trevillian Way | Saturday, April 27
Shop all native plants to help attract pollinators and other native wildlife to your own backyard zoo.