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They Fought the Lawn. And the Lawn Lost.


Dozens of states have passed laws to advertise the health of pollinators, which include bees, wasps, bats and butterflies, while some have curbed the authority of homeowner association edicts during droughts.

However the Maryland law was the primary within the country to limit homeowner association control over eco-friendly yards, said Mary Catherine Cochran, former legislative director for Maryland State Delegate Terri L. Hill, a Democrat who co-sponsored the laws. The measure gained bipartisan support, passed with near unanimity, and became law in October 2021.

“It’s a extremely small effort within the face of the international work that should be done,” said Dr. Hill, a physician. “However it’s nice that individuals in the neighborhood are in a position to feel that they’re empowered to make a difference.”

In December 2020, the Crouches and their homeowner association, which had countersued, reached a settlement. The Crouches were in a position to keep virtually all of their garden intact, but agreed to remove plantings inside three feet of their neighbor’s land and 6 feet of the sidewalk, and replace them with some type of grass — they selected native Pennsylvania sedge.

Their fight had a ripple effect. Their lawyer, Jeff Kahntroff, has since resolved not to make use of pesticides, and when a part of a tree fell in his yard, he and his wife left it there for critters to make use of as habitat. One other Maryland couple, Jon Hussey and Emma Qin, were in a position to point to the law after their homeowner association objected to weeds of their lawn, which they kept mowed but pesticide free. “It’s crazy how ingrained turf grass has grow to be,” Mr. Hussey said. “It doesn’t need to be that way.”

In the long run, the Crouches spent $60,000 on lawyers fees, but they are saying it was price it. This fall, with the brand new law backing them up, the Crouches let their dead coneflowers, sunflowers and other perennials stand. Mr. Crouch awoke one frigid morning this November to seek out six birds on the stalks, feasting on the seeds.

“Maryland was a giant deal,” Dr. Tallamy, the ecologist, said. “Now people know in the event that they fight back, they will win.”

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