City Ordinances and HOA rules

I’m on the other side of the world. Never seen one before. Wikipedia article states that it can feed on apple and tomato plants.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having to defend your right to grow native plants instead of a “green desert” lawn. I know what you’re going through; my parents live in a Florida subdivision with a horrible HOA that requires them to spend literally thousands of dollars a year to keep a lawn of a particular variety of crabgrass that dies whenever there is a drought, a cold snap, or an unkind word spoken in its general direction. But it is the only variety of crabgrass that the HOA will allow, and they’ll be fined if they replace it with anything else.

However, even in that neighborhood, a few brave souls have planted pollinator gardens of native species. Their beds were a little wild-looking (as they should be), but they were neatly edged with the concrete borders necessary to keep out the crabgrass, and one property owner had put lots of signage identifying the major plants and explaining the value of pollinator gardens. That garden in particular was teeming with butterflies and native bees, as well as honey bees, those media darlings.

Fight the good fight, and I hope you prevail!


I got rid of the grass in my yard to cut down on water, because if the grass wasn’t luscious and green, the city was cranky about it. Utah is hot, so the grass isn’t always luscious and green without a bunch of water. Like waaaaay too much water. Didn’t seem worth how much water it needed. Especially when it can catch on fire when dry, all that too much of water is essential. So, I got rid of the grass and the city was cranky about that too, because now my lawn doesn’t look like all the other pretty green lawns by mine. I figured they’d be difficult about it but I was set on doing it anyways. And difficult they were. And at that point, waddaya want?

After being reached out to about it, I pretty much was all talk but it worked. I said that there are environmental laws that protect people’s rights to be more environmentally friendly on their own property (I didn’t know specifics but I was told this at one point so I ran with it) and they didn’t want to fight about that. Probably because they didn’t want to incriminate themselves or seem like they don’t care about the environment, even though they definitely seemed like they didn’t. They were kind of jerks about the whole thing but didn’t care enough to get legal with me so maybe they just wanted to throw a fit.


Absurd! Are the fines more than the maintenance costs?

is this the city ordinance are you are accused of violating?

“Further, the ordinance is intended to promote the growth of native and other grasses/plants whose root structures tend to aid in stabilizing the soil and reducing dust.”

" Does the Code Enforcement Division and the ordinance enforce upon overgrown natural vegetation or other plants that I consider weeds?

No. The Code Enforcement Division can only enforce upon overgrowth of the weeds listed specifically in the ordinance. Other plants are not considered weeds per the ordinance, and hence we are not able to compel property owners to trim or remove them."

If your property doesn’t have those particular 16 weeds then you should be OK, from my reading of the website. Maybe try to get an inspector to come out to your property and you can show them that your plants are all native species and not “weeds” according to the ordinance?

Far beyond being in violation of the ordinance, your practices seem to be those that landowners are encouraged to do - at least on the website.


Correct. My overgrown native plants


If your neighborhood has a discussion group or an email group, this was just in the Washington Post and is easy to follow and employs a “Do it for the butterflies” format, which might drum up support since most people go swoony for butterflies.

I am not sure of HOA ins and outs and legalities where you are so cannot comment, but I think your wildflowers look like they are flourishing.


We live in the same town and from what I’ve seen the city hasn’t done an adequate job controlling invasive weeds on public property this summer. Not that your yard is weedy. I’ve never had such a complaint lodged against me for my overgrown front yard. I suppose it depends on your neighbors and which ones are inclined to be &$!%s.


Awesome sunflowers!

Hopefully your notice was more detailed than just a pointer to the section and had some way to reach out to whomever wrote the citation.

When I had a similar notice, they provided an e-mail contact, so I was able to find out specifically what part of the ordinance I was violating.

Mostly, they didn’t like that I had some pokey weeds overhanging the sidewalk. Not that it should make a difference, since the driveway is yours, but maybe someone mistook some of the bushy plants coming out of the edge-gaps as Russian Thistle (Salsola)?

I don’t imagine you would need to remove the whole yard, but maybe trimming it so that nothing hangs over or grows from concrete sections should be enough to comply? Especially, if you have before/after photos and make the case for native species.


and the medians/sidewalks with 5 foot tumbleweeds like every year … one undeveloped lot in my neighborhood gets mowed periodically, flattening broad leaf milkweed.

Feel free to stop by if you’re hiking in the area (Embudo Canyon) :slightly_smiling_face:


Not much to go on. I called multiple numbers and sent an email to get information.

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Not a lawyer, but maybe worth checking WEEDS definition in 9-8-3 where species of weeds are defined? Maybe with the help of a lawyer, figure out how to respond with “None of the species referenced in 9-8-3 are presently found to be growing here, so I’m not in violation and believe the citation warning was issued in error” with a list of plants that are present or something of that sort?


Elliott, get in contact with the ABQ chapter of the Native Plant Society. This bunch will likely know the answers to your questions/predicament.
Find them here: – Note the link there to their Facebook page, I’m sure you’ll get some quick feedback by posting there.
A second group that may be helpful is Xeric Garden Club of ABQ:


I’ve read it. There’s some gray area with native Chenopodium and Euphorbia, but I’m clear on the rest. Ironically, people grow purslane to eat here and it’s on the list.


Thanks Ellen. I called and emailed code enforcement, and emailed the Water Conservation Program Manager at ABCWUA, my city councilor, and NM NPS. I appreciate all the support and suggestions from this community. I also found a new yard dragonfly today! I’d rather be fighting the city than mowing a lawn.


I’m sure they probably were thinking Spotted Spurge (Euphorbia maculata) when they listed “Spurge” as a weed, but I guess you could report that neighbor who has been reporting your yard, if they have any decoratives like: African Milkweed (Euphorbia trigona) or Crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii) :smiling_imp:


I wish I could report every neighbor who plants Euphorbia myrsinites and Salvia yangii, but nicely explaining the impacts of spreading invasives is probably better than calling the city


Not a lawyer, but Florida law seems to prohibit such covenants from preventing Florida-friendly landscaping. See Florida statutes 373.185 (3b).


Seems like, based on what the city specifically defines as weeds in the ordinance, you can make the legitimate argument that you don’t have any of those species in your yard, thus you’re in compliance. Should be a clear-cut case of mistaken identity.


Not quite as good as @aispinsects’ statute but New Mexico Statue 76-8-1 has a list of protected plants. Maybe worth referencing if any are located in your garden?