New law protects our planet, supports eco-friendly gardening in Maryland

What this means for your yard: Can you give up the “perfect lawn”?

Children playing in a yard without pesticides

It’s October and Maryland has a new law, one that will help the environment and give us gardeners a little more freedom. Earlier this year, the Maryland legislature passed HB322, known as the Low-Impact Landscaping bill, effective October 1, 2021. In a nutshell, communities—including homeowners associations (HOAs)—can no longer require turf in yards or ban certain types of gardens.

Instead, the new law allows homeowners to convert their lawns to habitats to benefit pollinators, birds and other wildlife and to install rain gardens and xeriscaping to help manage storm water run-off and conserve water. Yes, even in our front yards. (Jump to types of gardens referenced in law).

This may mean that our expanses of uniform green lawn may change. But that’s a trend that has been gathering steam across the country for years as our planet faces drought, climate and biodiversity crises.

Here’s a sampling of the headlines: “Are Traditional Lawns on Their Way Out?” Wall Street Journal; “Do You Have a Glossy, Green Front Lawn? What is this, the 1950s?” The Guardian; “The American Lawn: A Eulogy,” The Atlantic. Heck, even Men’s Journal has been reporting on “How to Kill Your Lawn” and claims that “smaller is better.”

We’re still in the early phases of a mass shift away from lawns, however. For many, grass is a hard habit to break.

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