Supporting Native Gardens in Chicago

July 16, 2013

Should native plants be considered weeds? Openlands is facilitating a broad coalition of gardeners and organizations that support gardening to address Chicago's municipal weed control ordinance. The coalition is meeting to discuss how to insure that native plantings are not discouraged and residents are treated fairly.

Native gardens benefit communities and ecosystems in multiple ways, including:

  • water conservation
  • soil erosion control
  • native habitat for wildlife and insects
  • rainwater infiltration
  • less landscape maintenance and lower cost

Despite the benefits, some home gardens and community gardens in Chicago have been ticketed without warning for plants that are too tall and thereby defined as "weeds" under the City of Chicago’s municipal weed control ordinance. These plants often are actually perennials, native plants, or even vegetables. The vague definition in the ordinance deems weeds as anything that grows on average taller than 10 inches and isn’t managed or maintained. This has lead to problems for some gardeners who have received tickets for their native plants.

Get Involved

The coalition wants to know if you or anyone you know has had this happen to you so we that can work together to address this problem. Please contact Tina Seaman at Openlands to share your story.

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