Laws Promoting Native Plants

Native Plant advocates are fighting back and passing laws that allows homeowners to plant native and have pollinator gardens.

Maryland – Law says HOAs need to allow home owners to plant native plants

  • On April 6, the Maryland senate unanimously passed House Bill 322, which compels Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) and other organizations to allow “low-impact landscaping” such as rain gardens, native plant gardens, pollinator gardens, and xeriscaping in subdivisions.
  • The law specifically forbids HOAs to require that “CULTIVATED VEGETATION [in gardens] CONSIST IN WHOLE OR IN PART OF TURF GRASS.
  • The bill was spearheaded by a Howard County, MD homeowner who was persecuted by her HOA because one of her neighbors disliked her pollinator garden. The HOA was so hostile to her garden that they paid a law firm $100,000 to force her to replace it with turf. The homeowner’s sister has written an excellent article (entitled Butterflies: 1, Bullies: 0) about their experiences at the hands of the HOA and their lawyers. These experiences included repeated hearings at which they homeowners endured harangues from their neighbor (whose lawn is reportedly regularly sprayed with toxic fertilizers and pesticides), numerous depositions, and harassment at their home.
  • Read an NPCC news article about this.

Maryland – Model Ordinance to allow native planting and pollinator and wildlife friendly plantings friendly yards, to reduce storm water run off, and to reduce climate change.

  • Read the DRAFT ordinance in Hyattsville (need to figure how to upload doc)

New Jersey – Native Plants only allowed in landscaping State Roadways

  • In May 2017 New Jersey adopted a bill that requires the Department of Transportation and other authorities to only use native plants to landscape roadways.
    1. An environmental group, Save Barnegat Bay was inspired to write the new bill after Hurricane Sandy damaged State Route 35 in Bay Head, New Jersey. Route 35 was replanted with a species of salt-tolerant trees sourced from Asia. But the seedlings had to be sprinkled by watering trucks twice a week, and they eventually died. “It was like watching taxpayer money being thrown away, and it didn’t make environmental sense either,” Save Barnegat Bay President Wenzel says. When the town proposed a new landscaping plan in 2014, Save Barnegat Bay decided to chime in. They hired a licensed architect and native-plants expert to draw up a detailed report of the vegetation along the route, highlighting which species would be better suited and more beneficial for the project.
    2. It was this clearly presented scorecard that won local politicians over. “We needed to simply tell them what the problem was,” Save Barnegat Bay’s Wenzel says. They were in awe of how inferior some of the oft-used exotic plants were compared to natives, she adds. “It was powerful.”
    3. Save Barnegat Bay also credits the Native Plant Society of New Jersey saying : “Most of the credit for passing this bill should go to the thousands of volunteers throughout New Jersey who have promoted the use of native plants at fairs and festivals for the last thirty years, including the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. When we brought this bill before the legislative committees, they already knew what native plants are. That is thanks to a generation of selfless volunteer workers.”

Tennessee – Tennessee Department of Environment and conservation also encourages native plants in their Erosion & Sediment Control Handbook, which is currently being updated.

Florida Native Plant Society Native Plant Advocacy guides

  • FNPS has created a model landscape ordinance.  This model ordinance is intended to assist local governments with development and update of their landscape ordinances with a goal toward making them not just “Florida Friendly” but native friendly as well.   The model ordinance is not intended to replace local ordinances, but rather to be a guide for making them sustainable.  They encourage practices to conserve water, protect water quality, avoid problem non-native species (invasive species), and provide habitat for desirable insects and wildlife.
  • The chapters in southeast Florida with the support of FNPS, developed a handbook to assist Chapters and members with effective advocacy.



  • In 2010, the City of Lake Worth, Florida adopted a landscaping code which calls for native, drought-hardy plants that save money, add value and follow other “Florida-friendly” landscaping practices.
  • Since 2014, Palm Beach County, Florida has had a program to encourage restoration and expansion of Florida native plant canopy. The county also provides technical assistance and free native plants to county residents.
  • FLORIDA-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPING™ PROGRAM is a podcast from University of Florida extension discussing landscaping with native plants.

Florida – Florida Wildflower Foundation program to help Florida counties to adopt resolutions to protect native wildflowers along roadway.

  • Once the resolution is in place, it serves as a “permission slip” for the county to request FDOT to manage selected state and federal roadsides for special management that keeps flowers and grasses flourishing. Counties also can select county roads for special management by their maintenance personnel and contractors.
  • In tandem with the resolutions, FWF have a regional wildflower liaison who works with county residents to propose the resolutions, watch selected roadways, and recommend other roads for special management. We’ve developed a model in the Panhandle which is working nicely, and have established a 500-member volunteer force we call the Panhandle Wildflower Alliance. This year, we will work to start an alliance-building effort in FDOT District 3, where we are surveying roads to establish wildflower viewing routes for tourism.


  • On October 9, 2018 the Pennsylvania Township of West Norriton adopted the latest local ordinance in support of the use of native plants in all Township landscaping.
  • West Norriton joins several other municipalities (at least three in Pennsylvania alone!) in enacting requirements to encourage use of locally adapted native plants in development, parks and or landscaping. Most of these ordinances were adopted in order to reduce water, pesticide and fertilizer use in local landscaping:
    1. This ordinance was later adopted by nearby Schuylkill Township, also in Pennsylvania.
    2. The Lower Makefield ordinance directs in part, that “[a]ll major subdivisions and land development plans shall contain a Landscape Plan approved before construction and as part of the subdivision/land development approval process which shall address the conservation of the natural landscape to enhance the development and to protect surrounding areas. All required plants shall be Native Plants. The basic goal is to preserve the native flora by mimicking the localized native plant community.”
      1. Read the Lower Makefield ordinance
      2. View a PowerPoint presentation (pdf) on the Lower Makefield native plant ordinanceand its development
      3. Read the Schuylkill ordinance