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Weed and Nuisance Plant Ordinances


AKA: Noxious weed ordinances, natural landscaping, native plants, natural vegetation, tall grass ordinances

Many communities have weed ordinances or regulations that limit the size or type of vegetation which grows or is cultivated within the community. These are intended to prevent unsightly or poorly maintained property. However, some weed ordinances are so restrictive that they limit the ability of landowners to use natural landscaping. Landscaping that uses native plants along a lake’s shoreline mimics natural conditions and provides a buffer for the lake to filter pollutants and
reduce erosion.

Communities are beginning to recognize the benefits of more natural landscaping practices, and many have amended their weed ordinances to allow for maintained native plantings. The most common ways to approach this are through the following options:

•  Setbacks: these ordinances generally require an area (such as within the front or perimeter of the lot, or from a road) in which vegetation above a certain height is not permitted. Vegetation behind the setback is unregulated, allowing landowners freedom to use native landscaping around lakes and other natural features.

•  Natural landscape exception ordinance: these types of weed ordinances contain exceptions for environmentally beneficial landscapes (such as those planted for erosion control, wildlife habitat, educational purposes, etc.)

•  Listing regulated plants: these ordinances include a list of plants that are unauthorized (such as noxious and invasive plants) and those that must be kept mowed below a specified height (such as turf grasses), while allowing beneficial native plants to grow taller.


Additional Reference Material

OrganizationCountyResource DescriptionResource Link
Michigan Natural Shoreline PartnershipStatewideMichigan Natural Shoreline Partnership WebsiteClick here

Additional Ordinance Examples

MunicipalityCountyResource DescriptionResource Link
Frankenlust TownshipBay CountyOrdinance 4A: Weed OrdinanceClick here
City of KalamazooKalamazoo CountySection 22-3 A. (1): Noxious WeedsClick here
Village of Paw PawVan Buren CountyArticle 4 Section 12-91: Noxious WeedsClick here
Springfield Charter TownshipOakland CountySection 40-721: Landscaping, greenbelts and BuffersClick here