As Natural Landscaping Takes Root We Must Weed Out the Bad Laws - How Natural Landscaping and Leopold's Land Ethic Collide with Unenlightned Weed Laws and What Must Be Done about It
77 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015
Date Written: 1993
The natural landscaping “movement” has taken root and its adherents are a varied lot. In the Northeast, these people are re-creating the dense layers of the native American deciduous forest; they replace lawns with understory species like dogwood, wild azaleas and native shrubs, ferns and woodland wildflowers. Midwesterners are re-creating tallgrass and shortgrass prairies. Arizonians are landscaping with Sonoran desert native species like giant saguaro, multi-stemmed ocotilo, and prickly pear cactus. They all share a common goal --- to harmonize gardening and landscaping practices with Nature.
Many natural landscapers, however, face municipal weed inspectors who challenge their right to “garden in Thoreau’s Tradition”. These conflicts are the unfortunate result of the collision of opposing forces; those who favor a return to a harmonic relationship with Nature against those who promote the myth of superabundance and the belief that "progress" is the process by which the less ordered natural world is harnessed by people to create a more ordered material environments. This article argues that this homocentric view of the world is ill-conceived and the use of weed laws to prohibit natural landscapes is a manifestation of the fundamental misunderstanding of humankind's proper place within Nature.
The article offers arguments for natural landscapers to use against weed law prosecutions, and suggest way for cities and towns to amend their laws to not only permit this benign landscaping, but encourage it.
Keywords: Weed laws, Natural Landscaping, native plants, Aldo Leopold, Land Ethic
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation