There is increasing interest among residents in cities across Minnesota to establish lawns and gardens that support pollinators. However, such plantings can run afoul of a city’s “weed” or vegetation maintenance ordinances.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has developed a sample Pollinator and Perennial Garden Permit as part of the new Lawns to Legumes program developed to support at-risk pollinators such as the rusty patched bumble bee.
This permit, inspired by the City of St. Louis Park, includes requirements for a site plan, a list of primary plants, and a site preparation and maintenance checklist. It can be used by cities to supplement their current ordinances to accommodate plantings planned to provide pollinator protection, water quality, and other benefits.
To begin issuing permits, cities will need to amend their vegetation maintenance, lawn, weed, nuisance, and/or related ordinances in a manner that authorizes the permit and dictates the terms and conditions required to grant a permit. In addition, a city’s ordinance should note that land covered by a Pollinator and Perennial Garden Permit is an exception to the terms in a city’s vegetation maintenance, lawn, weed, nuisance, and/or related ordinances.
The cities of Burnsville, Austin, and Rochester are among those that have adopted ordinances authorizing such permits and these can be used as a starting point for cities looking to implement a program. Cities should work with their city attorney when drafting their ordinance amendments.
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