Managed Natural Landscapes

Natural Plantings in the Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Landscape

The City Council has approved a new ordinance permitting Managed Natural Landscapes in residential areas provided these landscapes are planned, intentional, and maintained. The ordinance defines a Managed Natural Landscape as a planting of native:  grasses, wildflowers, forbs, ferns, sedges, rushes, shrubs and trees. 

Landscapes include:

  • rain gardens
  • meadow vegetation including wet meadows, wetlands, and prairie plant communities
  • ornamental plantings

Managed Natural Landscapes do not include traditional turf lawns which have been left unattended or areas containing noxious or aggressive non-native plants, such as reed canary grass, European buckthorn, or Japanese knotweed.  

To learn more about noxious and aggressive plants, please refer to the Minnesota Noxious Weed List.

Ecosystem Benefits

Introducing native plants to residential areas can provide critical habitat for pollinators, hibernating animals, and birds feeding on insects and seeds throughout the winter months. They can also help to create wildlife-friendly corridors that help animals travel from one natural area to the next.

Native plantings benefit water quality, too. Native plants typically have deeper root systems which help to retain soil much more effectively than turf grasses. They also require less fertilizer which can runoff lawns into water bodies causing algal blooms and harming wildlife. 

Human Community Benefits Yard of a home with a small field of Purple Coneflower and other prairie species in the foreground.

The economic benefits of a Managed Natural Landscape are multiple: native plants require much less irrigation, fertilizer, and chemical intervention as they are adapted to the local environment - unlike most turf grasses. They also require less maintenance than a typical turf lawn: managed natural landscapes require removal of undesired plants, such as invasive and woody species with little maintenance in between. Preparing your natural area for winter is even simpler: dormant vegetation can be left in place to provide high quality habitat to wintering animals including native bees and butterflies.   

Image courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.