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The Muddy Branch Alliance helps keep our waters clean – and wants to get you outside to enjoy them

The Muddy Branch Alliance helps keep our waters clean – and wants to get you outside to enjoy them
Did you know that the Muddy Branch stream runs for more than 12 miles, from Gaithersburg High School all the way to the Potomac – and that almost 11 of those miles have a natural surface trail for walking, hiking, or riding alongside?

The Muddy Branch Alliance, or MBA for short, is a local non-profit that protects and improves the water quality and natural habitat of the Muddy Branch stream for the benefit of the community. To achieve this goal, they bring neighbors and community groups together to maintain and improve the trail, and keep the stream clean. Most weekends you can find MBA members along the trail with local Scout groups, churches and other volunteers removing invasive plants, planting trees, doing trail work, or cleaning up trash.

  Muddy Branch Alliance

  The MBA knows that people care about what they know, and regularly hosts events along the stream and trail.  On October 13th, the MBA will be partnering with local organizations to host a volksmarch on the Muddy Branch Trail.  A volksmarch is an organized hike intended for everyone to enjoy at their own pace while also appreciating the scenic views around them. All are welcome and encouraged to come out and enjoy this family-friendly event.  The event is free and open to all with donations accepted at the start and finish.

Monarch butterflyTo help improve water quality in the stream the MBA recently launched the Lands Green Waters Clean program which helps homeowners reduce runoff from their yards, driveways, and houses. Homeowners can take simple steps reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, and pet waste that enter our waterways. Conservation landscaping removes small areas of turf grass, which does not effectively absorb water during heavy rains, and replaces it with more permeable soil and native plants, shrubs, and trees. This protects water quality, improves habitat for birds and fish, and makes streams safer for families.

These projects make yards and common spaces beautiful, encourage native birds and butterflies, and can qualify homeowners for a rebate on their property taxes.  For homeowners interested in being a part of the initiative, a trained professional is sent to their homes to survey their yards to help design an eco-friendly oasis. The MBA will also help connect the property owner with resources and grants to help cover the costs.

Small actions within the community can have a significant impact on the Muddy Branch Watershed. By making small changes, our community can work together to keep our watershed healthy.

  Muddy Branch Alliance

  For more information on the Muddy Branch Alliance visit their website or visit their Facebook page. Interested in becoming a part of the Lands Green Waters Clean initiative to create your own backyard oasis? Click here for more info. Want to RSVP for the Volksmarch and secure a t-shirt? Click here.

Montgomery County receives a $1,000,000 grant for watershed restoration projects

Montgomery County receives a $1,000,000 grant for watershed restoration projects
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently awarded the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection a $1,000,000 Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund grant for two restoration projects in the Anacostia watershed. The funding will help DEP complete two important water quality improvement projects in the watershed: the Greencastle Lakes Stormwater Pond Retrofit and Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland projects.

From the DNR Press Release: The Hogan Administration has awarded funding to 18 recipients through the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to improve the health of Maryland’s waterways. The “Trust Fund” allows Maryland to accelerate Chesapeake Bay restoration and improve water quality by focusing targeted financial investments and resources on the most efficient and cost-effective non-point source pollution control projects.

Trust Fund grants will provide funding to stream and wetland restoration, innovative stormwater management practices, riparian tree buffer plantings and more in multiple counties across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“The Trust Fund allows the department to collaborate with our sister agencies and local champions and partners in government and nonprofit organizations to achieve a common goal, cleaner and healthier water,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Through these innovative and pioneering partnerships, Maryland is realizing lower costs for the removal of nutrients and sediments, benefiting both the environment and taxpayers.”

Fifty proposals were submitted to DNR this year. Montgomery County’s proposal was selected as one of only 18 funded applications. Since 2012, Montgomery County DEP has received over $24,000,000 in state Trust Fund dollars funding a total of 33 restoration projects including 4 miles of stream restoration, 10 stormwater pond retrofits, 3 parking lot projects, 14 bioretention rain gardens at 5 separate schools, and 6 roadside rain garden projects.

 
Kemp Mill Before Restoration

Kemp Mill Shallow Marsh Wetland: Located next to the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park, this dry detention pond will be converted into a shallow marsh wetland to improve water quality and treat stormwater runoff in the area. This project will provide desirable plants and wetland habitat for amphibians and other wildlife while improving our water quality.



 
Greencastle Before Restoration

Greencastle Lakes Stormwater Pond: Located on a tributary to Little Paint Branch, this stormwater pond will be redesigned to establish a permanent wet pool, upgrade dam safety measures, and improve wetland habitat, particularly by adding specific plants around the edge of the pond, commonly called the “aquatic bench”.



   

Take the “Aiming for Zero Waste” survey and attend a local event

Take the “Aiming for Zero Waste” survey and attend a local event
Montgomery County is a leader in solid waste management in the nation. While the County has achieved an overall recycling rate of 55 percent and a waste diversion rate of 60 percent (residential and business), we are always looking for ways to increase our recycling achievements. We are looking for your input on how to do that as part of our “Aiming for Zero Waste” plan.  This plan will serve as the blueprint for the sustainable management of waste, including collection, processing and disposal of waste in the County.

Have your say in the future of waste management in Montgomery County and help us on our path forward to zero waste.

Complete Our Aiming for Zero Waste Survey

Attend an Open House

The County’s Department of Environmental Protection is hosting an open house to seek feedback on our future waste management system, as part of our “Aiming for Zero Waste” plan. This plan will provide the blueprint for the sustainable management of waste, including collection, processing and disposal of waste in the County. Project team members will be available during the open house to answer questions. Drop in any time to learn about the options being considered and provide your feedback at either one of the following locations. The same information will be shared at each meeting.

Date: Wednesday September 19, 2018
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Place: Regional Services Center-B-CC
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD, US 20814

Date: Thursday September 20, 2018
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Place: Gaithersburg Regional Library
18330 Montgomery Village Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD, US 20879

The meeting location is ADA accessible. Persons in need of a sign language interpreter, Spanish or other language interpreter, an assistive listening device, large print or Braille material, or other accommodation to participate should contact the County’s ADA Compliance Manager who can be reached at 240-777-6197 (TTY 240-777-6196) or at adacompliance@montgomerycountymd.gov.

More project information can be found at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/SWS/master-plan.html.

Our top tips for a green back-to-school season

Our top tips for a green back-to-school season
Summer is almost over, and that means one thing — the non-stop back to school ads with dancing kids and the message to shop, shop, shop for the school year.

If you’re like me, and trying to minimize your environmental footprint, this time of year can be very stressful. Did you know that the National Retail Federation estimates that “Total spending for K-12 schools and college combined is projected to reach $82.8 billion?” That’s a staggering amount of new stuff that could eventually wind up in a landfill one day.

It’s not too late to plan out how you can have a successful school year and minimize the green guilt.

Take Stock

Dig in the school supply bins and pull the boxes out of the closet. Determine which items can be repurposed and reused from previous years.

  • Does that backpack really need to be replaced??
  • Is that lunchbox still sturdy enough for the upcoming school year?
  • And don’t forget the electronics such as computers, graphing calculators, and printers (more on these later). Of course, they’re newer, sleeker and lighter options, but are those upgrades worth the price?

If your child wants to go back to school with new supplies, try a compromise. They get a new backpack, but must reuse the other supplies. Any of the old supplies should be donated.

Slay the Energy Vampires

Energy vampiresComputers, phone chargers, printers — literally any device that is switched off, but remains plugged in – operates on standby power and is costing you a lot of money!

Invest in a Smart Power Strip. At $20 to $30, it’s a bit costlier than an average power strip, but is worth it. The strip stops drawing electricity from appliances that are turned off, meaning you don’t have to remember to switch the strip on and off every time. In fact, using a smart power strip throughout the house will save energy and dollars in every room.

Have you signed up for a Quick Home Energy Checkup? If you haven’t already, they are a service provided by your energy utility company at no-additional cost to you. During a QHEC, an auditor will provide you smart power strips and other energy saving devices and suggestions. Contact your electricity utility provider to learn more.

pens and pencils

Write Smart

The days of throwaway pens and pencils are gone, replaced by eco-friendly pens, and recycled versions of both. Once you have greener options in hand, encourage your kids to keep each pencil until it wears down to the nitty-gritty, and to use each pen as long as possible.  With greener pens, you won’t feel bad whenever one “disappears” or falls between the seats of the car.

Don’t Sacrifice Your Fashion Sense

Kids grow like weeds, so buying new clothes from retail stores not only wastes a lot of money for very little value, but “fast fashion” also contributes greatly to both sweatshop labor and waste. According to Eileen Fisher, a clothing industry magnate, “the clothing industry is the second largest polluter—second only to oil!”

Recycle clothesOrganize a clothing swap with your neighbors or co-workers. If that’s not an option, consider purchasing clothes from consignment shops and thrift stores. A popular trend is upselling gently used clothing at stores like Plato’s Closet and Uptown Chesapeake and using the money to purchase new-to-your-child clothing. These stores specialize in teen and young adult clothing and accessories that are in good condition and trendy. TotSwap, Maryland’s leading children’s consignment shop, is holding a swap at the Fairgrounds on September 18, 19, 21 and 23.

For clothes you are buying new, wait until Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week. This year, the first $40 of a backpack or bookbag is also tax-free. Accessory items like school supplies, except backpacks, are not included. The Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week for this year is Sunday, August 12 – Saturday, August 18, 2018.

And of course, don’t forget your reusable bag when shopping for clothes!

Pack Waste-Free Lunches

Ditch the brown bag and opt for a washable, reusable container to pack your lunch. Invest in a PVC-free, thermally insulated lunch bag, one made from recycled materials like juice boxes or from organic cotton.

Keep lunches cool by freezing water in a reusable container and slipping it in the bag. Instead of using baggies and plastic wrap for sandwiches and snacks, use reusable plastic containers or an easy to clean Wrap-n-Mat.

I polled DEP colleagues and asked what steps they’ve taken to green school lunches. One colleague said she saves used cereal bags, cuts in half and uses it to wrap sandwiches. The Laptop Lunch box system is also a good choice for reusable lunches, and includes individuals containers and beverage holders. For other beverages, use metal bottles which come in kid-friendly sizes and designs.

Green the Commute

To help reduce air pollution—a major contributor to childhood asthma—investigate whether you live on or close to the school bus route.Even if your child stays late for chess club or soccer practice, most schools have an extended bus schedule to accommodate.

BusIf you live relatively close to the school, a “walkpool” is a great way to save gas, reduce emissions, while getting your steps in! Parents take turns chaperoning a group on foot (or bike) to and from school.

Finally, if walking, biking or the bus aren’t options, organize a carpool with your neighbors.

Textbooks are Expensive — Buy Used

TextbooksUsed textbooks are often available for half off or more in campus bookstores, and websites such as eCampus and Amazon Textbook Rentals also carry a broad selection of used titles. (You can search by ISBN, Author or Title.) Renting or buying used textbooks is an increasingly popular option that helps to reduce the number of books being created, which can save millions of trees.

According to a statement issued by the Environmental Paper Network, “If the U.S. reduced its paper consumption by 10 percent annually, we could save enough energy to power 228,000 homes, conserve 11 billion gallons of water, and prevent carbon emissions equivalent to removing 279,000 cars from the road! Choosing used textbooks can help.”

Start a Conversation

ConversationInclude your children in the conversation about why going green is good for them and the planet. They should feel like part of the decision making and not that going green is forced upon them. Hopefully, because of your thoughtful conversations with your kids, they will make greener, healthier choices when you aren’t there watching over them. It’s the first step towards them becoming a global citizen.

Hope these tips allow you to have a happy and green back-to-school season!


By Cindie Harrison, Program Manager at the Montgomery County, MD Department of Environmental Protection

Putting the ART back in partnership

Putting the ART back in partnership

National Park Service and Montgomery County sign new 10-year agreement for shared management of Glen Echo Park.


Glen Echo Park, famous for its carousel, Spanish ballroom, arts programs and Civil Rights history, will be managed cooperatively by the National Park Service (NPS) and Montgomery County for the next 10 years. This successful local-federal partnership benefits the community and protects nationally significant history.

Senator Chris Van Hollen, Glen Echo Mayor Willem Polak, and representatives from the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture gathered in the park today when the NPS and the County signed a cooperative agreement that meets all contemporary laws and policies and ensures that visitors will continue to enjoy the Glen Echo Park they have known and loved for generations.

Glen Echo Partnership Event“This partnership demonstrates how federal and local government can work together to care for places that are important to our communities,” acting National Capital Regional Director Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini said. “We move forward together confident that Glen Echo Park is prepared to host more special memories.”

Since 2002, the County, with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, has demonstrated its commitment to high-quality visitor experiences and preserving the park’s historic character.

“Glen Echo is one of Montgomery County’s crown jewels,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “With this new agreement, the County looks forward to working with the National Park Service and the Glen Echo Partnership to even further enhance everything that Glen Echo has to offer.”

Under the new agreement, Montgomery County will be responsible for operation, maintenance and day-to-day management of the park. The County will continue to work with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture to provide public art programs, studio exhibits, performances and social dances, which have been a tradition in Glen Echo Park for more than 120 years.

“Glen Echo Park is a thriving community center with a wide range of classes and events for people of all ages to enjoy, but the future viability of the park was at risk if Montgomery County and the National Park Service were unable to renew their successful partnership,” said Senator Van Hollen. “While we disagree on many issues, I want to thank Department of Interior Secretary Zinke for personally committing to me that we could renew and strengthen the partnership and am very pleased to report that we are officially moving forward to ensure that Glen Echo Park will thrive for years to come.”

 

About Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park has delighted its neighbors and visitors over the years. From its origin as a summer resort and education facility, to its time as DC’s premier amusement park, and from its turbulent Civil Rights history to the unique arts and cultural center it is today.

“I am excited for the local community because Glen Echo Park is a unique jewel that will continue to be a cherished educational and cultural asset in Montgomery County thanks to this continuing partnership with the National Park Service,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The park provides fun and educational opportunities for all ages throughout the year.

“I’m very excited about this local-federal partnership to manage this local and national treasure,” said Congressman Jamie Raskin. “Our whole community looks forward to hosting new generations of local, national and international visitors at this gem of a spot.”

For more information and a schedule of events in the park visit Glen Echo Park’s website.

MCDOT sponsors free PARK(ing) Day celebration

MCDOT sponsors free PARK(ing) Day celebration
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is encouraging artists, planners, businesses, organizations, groups, and individuals to participate in International PARK(ing) Day on September 21 by temporarily transforming a metered parking space in Silver Spring or Bethesda into a fun, parklike spot. Participants are encouraged to creatively reimagine the urban landscape for a day. See photos online from previous years that include a park with plants, mini-golf course, campfire site and games and interactive activities for kids and adults. There is no charge to participate in the event.

“PARK(ing) Day is a way to have fun, stimulate conversations about our transportation choices and support infrastructure that is more transit-oriented, bikeable and walkable,” said MCDOT Director Al Roshdieh. “This year, MCDOT is offering PARK(ing) Day applicants the opportunity to promote their services and provide free samples or giveaways at their ‘park.’ In addition, applicants can suggest a preferred parking space location if the spot they have in mind was not identified as an option on the online map.

PARK(ing) Day spots were chosen with safety in mind, but MCDOT will evaluate other location suggestions. The use of parking spaces will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including set up and tear down.

 
DEP's Parking Day Display in 2017

DEP’s Parking Day Display in 2017



  Those interested in taking part in PARK(ing) Day can get more information and apply online or by mail. Participants are required to meet certain guidelines that are spelled out in the application. Guidelines for businesses have been relaxed to allow more promotional activities.

Get inspiration and see what others have done on past PARK(ing) Days online.

Join DEP at the 2018 County Fair!

Join DEP at the 2018 County Fair!
We love the County Fair! From the animals to the rides and carnival games, it’s one of our favorite times of year. (And don’t get us started on the food.)

But the main reason the Department of Environmental Protection loves the County Fair is that it gives us the opportunity to engage and talk with thousands of County residents over the course of a single week! We get to hear from you, exchange ideas and share what programs we have available for you.

 

Fun at the Fair

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair offers a great opportunity to have fun and learn. This year, the Fair is August 10th-18th. Where else can you see pig races, Chainsaw Carver demonstrations, learn all about bees, buy award winning bake goods, and visit educational booths?  As a bonus you can visit us!

 
Image of geese dressed up at the County Fair

Even geese dress up and come out to enjoy the Agricultural Fair.



 

The DEP Tent

This year, DEP will have one tent with all the information about our Department under the same roof – learn about recycling, energy, your watershed, trees, and composting in one spot!

  • Pick up a compost bin
  • Ask a recycling question  (or answer one for a prize!)
  • Learn how we clean our waters with rain gardens and bioretentions
  • Spin the “green” wheel for prizes
  • Discover our RainScapes, Tree Montgomery, and energy programs
  • Learn about litter prevention
  • Pick up resources and informational tools
 
Image of kids participating in the DEP trivia game.

Test your knowledge by participating in our fun trivia game.



  The DEP booth is located next to the Chilly Mall and the 4-H Building.

Overall, we are very excited to be gearing up to participate and look forward to seeing you there!

Visit www.mcagfair.com for the latest schedule, maps and all the details of Fair activities.  

Sustainability is not an “add-on” at CNSI

Sustainability is not an “add-on” at CNSI
For CNSI, a Rockville-based health information technology company, environmental sustainability is central to its corporate culture and work ethic. Importantly, their Green Business Certification is not viewed as a distinct add-on to the company’s strategic objectives.

Rather, their environmental efforts are rooted in an integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework which focuses on doing the right thing in all aspects of business. Hence, their environmental initiatives flow naturally from this over-arching framework.

iCare and The Five Pillars

To better define their objectives, CNSI created their iCare program in 2015, which consists of five pillars: People, Environment, Governance & Ethics, Philanthropy & Volunteerism, and Innovation. The company’s overarching CSR motto is,“Think Globally, Act Locally.”

CSNI

The governance of iCare was structured to ensure that its objectives are woven throughout the fabric of CNSI’s business. Leaders from each business unit, which include Human Resources, Information Technology & Security, Ethics and Corporate Compliances, Facilities, and Marketing Communications, create annual CSR goals and tactical plans to achieve those goals. These goals and plans are then approved by the company’s board of directors and tracked throughout the year by the iCare Leadership Committee. To showcase the impact of the programs efforts, the company provides an annual CSR report (the 2016 report can be found on their website and the 2017 report will be released shortly).

The CSR committee is housed in the marketing department and as Jennifer Bahrami, Vice President of Marketing Communications, says, “None of our CSR work would be possible without having 100% buy-in from our leadership. Our efforts touch each part of the business and collaboration is vitally important.”

  iCare at CSNI

Think Globally, Act Locally

To act on their mantra, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, CNSI’s CSR consultant Mary Fehlig, of the Fehlig Group, another Montgomery County Certified Green Business, encouraged CNSI to consider certification. As they gathered data, they quickly discovered that they were already doing many of the suggested actions as a matter of course. Missie Aulls, CNSI’s Facility Manager and the company’s lead on the certification process, was pleased to discover that, “We are actually implementing a lot of green practices. We just did it because that’s the way we thought it needed to be done, not because we were seeking a particular certification.”

They also found the checklist provided a tangible and detailed roadmap to help the company communicate ways in which employees can “live green”, both in and outside of the office. It also allowed the Green Committee to engage with more departments and expand their sustainability efforts.

The Green Business Certification Program also helped CNSI to determine areas in which they could improve, and better ways to measure progress. Their goals for 2018 include the following:

  • Complete each phase of the Continuous Improvement Plan, which involves monitoring defined metrics
  • Expand awareness tactics for all employees including e-newsletter articles, in-house digital advertising, and in-person education events.
  • Institute a Fair Trade Certified and low-impact purchasing policy at all project sites.
  • Identify requirements and begin work on greening three office locations outside the county, utilizing the Green Business Certification framework.


Their main challenge was pulling all the information together from various departments. But now they possess real data on things like recycled and recyclable office supplies, coffee packets, etc., that provide tangible evidence they are making progress toward their goals and a positive impact on their local and global environment.

The certification has also helped them understand that their commitment to organizational stewardship comes alive when policies are put into practice.

  CSNI

 

Earth Day Becomes Earth Month

Since iCare began, Earth Day has been an important cornerstone to increase employee engagement and raise awareness of environmental issues. In the past, CNSI has distributed reusable mugs, bags, and garden seeds. They also make an annual contribution to the Arbor Day Foundation. Given that CNSI is an IT company, they place a great deal of emphasis on electronic recycling. Each year, they host an e-cycling event where employees can bring in used or broken electronics for proper recycling. To date, more than 2,500 pounds of electronic waste has been collected.

In 2018, Earth Day transformed into Earth Month. Throughout the month of April, the company hosted different sustainability activities. In addition to their annual e-cycling event, the company invited a representative from Waste Management who showed the process, goals, and tips for proper recycling.

The company also extended their seed giveaway by distributing more than 1,000 packets to all their US offices. Lastly, the CNSI office in Michigan teamed up with their local area food bank to weed, clean up, and plant fresh vegetables and fruit in their garden.

To highlight all these activities, the Marketing Communications department put out a e-newsletter at the beginning of the month, advertised events on the company’s intranet, and displayed weekly ads on the TV screens located on each floor. These promotional and educational materials are then used throughout the year to serve as friendly reminders of how to be environmentally conscience.

Sustainability Embedded

What is readily apparent is that CNSI’s sustainability efforts are not simply about checking the boxes. Their significant efforts are very much a part of their corporate culture and embedded in their long-term commitment to being a good corporate steward.

Article by Julia Craighill, Ensight Consulting

Getting rid of your lawn? Follow our plan for a beautiful garden AND happy neighbors

Getting rid of your lawn? Follow our plan for a beautiful garden AND happy neighbors
Making the switch to less lawn requires prep work. You can’t let the lawn go wild on its own, because it may not attract pollinators, and it certainly won’t make your neighbors happy!

A lawn won’t spontaneously turn into a garden or meadow — it is much more than throwing away your lawn mower.  Do your research or consult with an expert who knows about transitioning from lawns. And don’t sell that lawnmower or weedwhacker. In most cases, you’ll still need it to maintain clean edges.

 

Talk to your neighbors

Communication is the best way to minimize disagreements and keep everyone happy. Tell your neighbors what your intentions are. Sometimes our imagination or fear gets the best of us, so if your neighbors know what you are doing upfront, they are less likely to look at it negatively and they’ll come to you first with questions or concerns.

Signs are another good technique to educate neighbors. You could have your garden certified through the National Wildlife Federation or if it is a County RainScape, put up a RainScape sign.

 

Start in the least visible part of your property

If possible, we suggest you start with the backyard, and not the front. Your front yard is more likely to be subject to weed complaints, and neighbors grumbling as they pass by.  It will also allow you to learn from the experience before moving to the more visible parts of your property.

Neighbor grumbling is completely natural. Many folks have become accustomed to the look of lawns in their communities, and make a connection between meadows and tall grasses with disarray, mess, and pests. By following some of these tips, you’ll hopefully minimize the grumbles, and eventually, turn your neighbors opinions around.

  Border

Maintain a really good border around your new meadow or garden area.

This is one of the “cues to care” that tells your neighbors that you are actively maintaining the area. We recommend keeping a 2 foot wide mowed area, mulched bed, foundation plantings, decorative stones, or a decorative fence around all sides of your gardens. How about a bench, birdhouse, bird feeder, or sculpture? Learn more here about cues to care.

  • Never let plants hang over into a sidewalk or roadway, or a neighboring property. Never let plants block signs, intersections, or cause any other unsafe situation for the public.
  • Don’t just “let it go” if you decide to stop mowing a lawn–a meadow or forest will not spontaneously appear. Make an effort to convert your lawn into a garden, at the very least by removing some grass and seeding in or planting native plants, whether it be other ornamental grasses, flowers, shrubs, or even trees. People like to see plants that look familiar to them from other gardens, not just overgrown turfgrass.
  • Trim down or mow your new garden space at least once a year. This is another reminder to neighbors that your new garden is intentional. Many people prefer to do their clean-up in spring, to allow overwintering insects and critters to take cover in standing debris, but year-round, you should thin out or trim plants that have a “messier” look. These might be plants that poke up a lot taller than the rest of the ones around them, plants that are broken or bent, or plants that dry out in summer when everything else is green.
  • Consider a RainScape, with the added benefit of soaking up runoff from your roof or driveway.


  Converted Lawn



Follow the Rules

  • County Code, Chapter 58 (Weeds) says that there can’t be any generalized plant growth more than 12 inches high within 15 feet of any property boundary. Generalized plant growth does not include trees, ornamental shrubs, flowers, or garden vegetables.
  • Check your HOA rules–there’s a chance your community may have specific rules on what you can or cannot do.
  • Always keep out State noxious weeds (thistle, shattercane, and Johnsongrass).



I’m the grumbling neighbor. What should I do about a nearby property that is overgrown?

If you noticed above, we mentioned talking to your neighbor first. Find out what they are doing with their outdoor space, and if you have specific concerns, let them know with a clear and open attitude. Inform them of the “cues to care”, and that with a few small changes, they may be able to tidy up their yard. Before you call the authorities!

If you believe someone’s yard is in direct violation of the County’s Weed Ordinance mentioned above, you may submit a complaint through 3-1-1.