Advice From Others
We posted a message asking for advice and help to the NPSOT (Native Plant
Society of Texas) mailing list. We received many responses and
lots of advice. A summary of the advice (some conflicting) follows:
- Communicate with the officials as soon as possible. Explain
the garden and benefits of natural landscaping. Be friendly and
polite. Make them feel guilty for citing you.
- Respond by both voice (phone or in-person) and writing as soon as
- Break down their complaint and the rule piece by piece. State
how the garden does not violate each piece of the rule.
- Give the officials a tour of the garden and explain the benefits
as above. Have other gardening and native plant experts on-hand
to answer questions.
- Ask for help from local organizations and governmental groups. Get
letters supporting natural landscaping from experts and officials.
- Be polite and compromise on issues you are willing to. Don't
give the officials no way out.
- Don't compromise on any of the important points. Do not agree
to anything you do not believe is correct.
- Get a lawyer as soon as possible.
- Only pursue legal action if all else fails.
- Add elements to make the garden seem more human or controlled.
Add hardscape such as a stone path, edging, a bird bath, a bench,
- Keep a journal to show continuous work on the garden.
- Be diligent in removing any noxious weeds such as poison ivy and
- Mow any exotic lawn areas or get rid of them.
- Have a professional botanist tour the garden and create a plant
- Show that the plants are perinnials and require a non-showy rosette
phase like exotic perinnials.
- Add signage to identify plants to prove they are not weeds.
- Get the garden certified as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard
Wildlife Habitat and Texas Parks and Wildlife Wildscape. Display
- Show that the rule is not being enforced uniformly by comparing
plant height, etc. to others covered by the rule who were not citied.
- Respect right of way ordinances about plant height.
- Add edging around areas to make them into "controlled" beds.
- Screen wilder looking places with a lattice or fence.
- Add ornamental, non-lawn grasses.
- Keep things neat: dead-head plants when possible. Remove dead
- If you know when they will inspect, water to make the natives look
as good as possible.
- Trim or prune plants to make them seem as tidy as possible.
Jason M. Spangler,