Natural Lawns and No-Mow May

See the following language from Fitchburg's Code of Ordinances regarding applying for a native landscape or natural lawn on your own property. Please reach out to Jack Pearson ( with the Building Inspection Department, or Zack Jones ( with the Planning Department, for more information on submitting an application.

  • Any owner or operator of land in the city may apply for approval of a land management plan for a native landscape, one where the grasses exceed eight inches in height, with the building inspector.

    (Comp. Ords. 2009, § 4.11(3))

  • Any owner or operator of land in the city may apply for approval of a land management plan for a natural lawn, one where the grasses exceed eight inches in height, with the department of planning and development.

    (Comp. Ords. 2009, § 4.11(3)(a))

  • (a)

    The term "land management plan" means a written plan relating to management of the lawn which contains a legal description of the lawn upon which the grass will exceed eight inches in length, a statement of intent and purpose for the lawn, a general description of the vegetation types, plants, and plant succession involved, and the specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed.


    The management plan must include provisions for cutting at a length not greater than eight inches the terrace area, that portion between sidewalk and the street or a strip not less than four feet adjacent to the street where there is no sidewalk, and at least a three-foot strip adjacent to neighboring property lines unless waived by the abutting property owner on the side so affected.


    All lawn and grass areas shall be cut between June 30 and October 15 when the fire chief, in his/her discretion, feels there is cause for a fire hazard.

    (Comp. Ords. 2009, § 4.11(3)(b))

  • The land management plan may be revoked for failure to comply with the requirements of sections 37-69 through 37-76. Notice of intent to revoke a land management plan shall be appealable to the urban design commission. All applications for appeal shall be submitted within 15 days of notice of intent to revoke a land management plan.

    (Comp. Ords. 2009, § 4.11(3)(c))

  • Each application for a land management plan shall be on a form provided by the building inspection department. A copy of the application shall be mailed by the applicant or given personally by the applicant to each of the owners of record, as listed in the office of the city assessor, who are owners of the property situated in whole or in part within 200 feet of the boundaries of the properties affected. The building inspection department shall provide the list of the property owners who are to be notified of the application. The applicant shall certify, under oath, on a form to the building inspection department, that such owners have been duly notified and the manner in which they have been notified. If, within 15 days of receipt of a copy of the application, at least 51 percent of such property owners file written objections to the application with the building inspections, the building inspection department shall deny.

    (Comp. Ords. 2009, § 4.11(3)(d))

rustypatchedbumblebee smaller
  1. No-Mow May Info
  2. No-Mow May Registration
  3. What You Can Do
  4. What Does the Research Say?
  5. Yard Signs and Social Media

Join your Fitchburg neighbors this Spring in the City's first pilot "No-Mow May" program. Common Council approved Resolution R-82-23 on April 11th, designating May 2023 as No-Mow May in Fitchburg and temporarily suspending the City's lawn maintenance ordinance until June 1st.

As more natural spaces are developed and wilderness increasingly partitioned into smaller and less contiguous parcels, many animal and plant species are facing pressures due to habitat loss and population fragmentation. For pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and beetles, as well as countless other invertebrate species, these developed spaces now serve as a vital part of their habitats, with property owners’ use of native plant species in landscaping and gardening an important source of shelter and foraging options.

Most Wisconsinites are familiar with the European honeybee, perhaps the most popular and well-known insect on the planet, but our state is home to hundreds of other local bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects vital to our local ecosystems and food crop pollination. Abundant food and shelter options help these species as they emerge in Spring, and providing native plant species offers the habitat they sorely need to thrive. For many property owners, those native plant species already exist in lawns, so providing habitat can be as simple as eliminating or reducing the use of lawnmowers for the first several weeks of Spring, allowing flowers to grow where normally mowers would cut them down.

From Bee City USA: "No Mow May, Low Mow Spring"

Lawns cover 40 million acres, or 2%, of land in the US, making them the single largest irrigated crop we grow. Lawns are mowed, raked, fertilized, weeded, chemically treated, and watered⁠—sucking up time, money, and other resources. Lawns provide little benefit to wildlife, and are often harmful. Grass-only lawns lack floral resources and nesting sites for bees and are often treated with pesticides that harm bees and other invertebrates.

When we think of habitat loss, we tend to imagine bulldozers and rutted dirt, but acres of manicured lawn are as much a loss of habitat as any development site.

Re-thinking the American lawn can take a variety of forms from reducing mowing frequency or area mown to permanently converting lawn to a more diverse and natural landscape.

Why mow less in the spring?

The start of the growing season is a critical time for hungry, newly emerged native bees. Floral resources may be hard to find, especially in urban and suburban landscapes. By allowing it to grow longer, and letting flowers bloom, your lawn can provide nectar and pollen to help your bee neighbors thrive.

Mowing less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of wildlife including bees and other pollinators. One way to reduce mowing is by participating in No Mow April, No Mow May, or Low Mow Spring.

Citizen Science: Use the WI Bee App

WiBee App carousel 1
WiBee App carousel 2
WiBee App carousel 3
no-mow May checklist
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4