Ottawa

Couple fights City of Ottawa over natural lawn

A couple in Constance Bay, in Ottawa's west end, say they're in a fight with the city because they've decided to turn their lawn into a wildflower garden.

A couple in Constance Bay, in Ottawa's west end, say they're in a fight with the city because they've decided to turn their lawn into a wildflower garden.

Hank and Vera Jones, who bought the home on a half-acre lot a year ago, said they wanted to have a lawn that would attract wildlife, such as butterflies.

To do that, they've turned parts of their front lawn and most of their backyard into a haven for long grasses and wildflowers almost a metre high.

But the lawn has attracted more than simply wildlife.

Neighbours have complained about the couple's grass and now the city is threatening to mow their lawn if they don't do it themselves.

"Grasses are very important food plants for many of the pollinators. Bees and butterflies are the major pollinators of our food crops — so we're going to show people it's a better way," said Hank Jones, defending his choice in greenery.

He and his wife have mowed paths that wind around perennial gardens, mixed in with natural patches.

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden at the Experimental Farm donated around 100 of the native plants on their property.

If the city wants to tear those plants down, said the couple, workers are first going to have to pass a roadblock on their laneway.

"It's a kind of home invasion," said Jones.

"This can't happen. This home would not be my home anymore," his wife agreed.

As they were explaining their point of view, a bylaw officer snapped photographs of their lawn.

He said that the city had received a call about long grass on the property, but could delay the lawn-cutting order by two weeks.

Linda Anderson, the city's manager of bylaw services, said the city recognizes naturalized lawns, but that it also has to listen to neighbouring residents.

"We just want to make sure that people are cognizant of the fact that their neighbours want to see some maintenance work being done and some upkeep being done on the property," said Anderson.

The Joneses said they're not sure who has been making the complaints, but that their plan is to talk to all of their neighbours to explain why they want to allow their lawn to run wild.

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