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Friday - October 24, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Laws
Title: Avoiding cutting field of wildflowers in Pearland, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How does one get a "wildflower pass" to avoid having to cut a GORGEOUS field of native flowers? Our church in Pearland has a couple of acres that we are required to keep cut, but it's currently awash in a sea of pink muhly grass, wild sunflowers, passion vines, white guara, liatris, & other assorted pink flowers.


Unfortunately, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not have the power to issue such a pass, much as we would like to. So-called "weed laws" are generally the controlling factor in a specific community. It may involve how tall plants can grow in a space, what plants can grow there, etc. If your church acreage is located in an area that has a Homeowner's Association, that might be the originator of the requirement to cut the plants. The city of Pearland itself may have those rules. It could even be a ruling by the Health Department, in an attempt to keep trash cleaned up and control mosquitoes. Before you can do anything, really, you have to find out who "requires" you to keep the area cut.

One website that has some good general information on weed laws is Wild Ones, Weed Laws and Native Plant Landscaping. The Environmental Protection Agency has a site on Green Landscaping with Native Plants. The Texas Department of Transportation has information on this subject on their site Texas in Bloom.

We went to the website for the City of Pearland, and followed links on the Home Page to Departments and then to Code Enforcement, where we found this information: 

High Weeds & Grass

High weeds and grass can become a fire hazard as well as a breeding place for mosquitoes and rodents. Consequently, grass or weeds higher that 24 inches are not in compliance with the city ordinance. Following a notice by mail, property owners will have 10 days to remove the high weeds and grass. If the problem is not resolved, legal action could be taken in Municipal Court.

If the property is vacant, the city can send a mowing contractor to cut the high grass and weeds and issue a bill and administrative service fee to the property owner. A lien can be placed against the property if the bill is not paid.

The city also contracts to remove weeds that have grown higher than 48 inches. This action can be taken without prior notification in the interest of public health and safety. The city will send a bill to the property owner for this service.

It looks like that's where you are going to have to start. Whether they issue waivers or could be convinced to do so for natural areas, we have no way of knowing. 




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