We have a cheer for Maggie Redfern, assistant director for the Arboretum at Connecticut College, for fighting for her naturalistic yard, which a neighbor considered a violation of the New London, Conn., blight ordinance because it isn’t the typically perfectly manicured grass lawn.
Recently the city’s blight hearing officer issued a decision that sided with Redfern and dismissed an order citing her for a violation of the city’s property maintenance code. A neighbor had complained the yard was an eyesore.
Of course there is more to Redfern’s yard than meets the eye and we applaud her for it. The naturalistic yard is a long-term project to create an ecological landscape that contains a mix of drought resistant grasses and native plants that is free from pest weeds and does not require chemical pesticides or fertilizers. It also reduces fossil fuels, promotes pollinator health and minimizes water consumption and storm water runoff.
The Conservation Commission is now lanning a discussion about a replacement ordinance that better defines a cultivated garden and does not penalize people for maintaining something other than a grass lawn. We hope this case will make people rethink traditional lawns and consider planting native plants and going pesticide-free, which is better for the environment and wildlife.