A Charlottetown man is vowing to fight the city over its decision to mow his lawn without his permission.
Michael Ross was slapped with an order to mow his lawn last month because a city bylaw dictates grass can't be higher than 150 millimetres.
"We haven't heard any complaints yet," Ross said. "Most people have a pretty positive appreciation, not just for what we're trying to achieve, but also for the look."
City councillors voted last month to mow it for him. While that hasn't happened yet, Ross said he's ready for when it does.
He said that when a city crew arrives, security cameras fixed on the lawn will alert him. At that point, he'll go out and try to reason with them, Ross said.
A spokesperson for the city declined to comment on this story.
Michael Ross runs his hands through the grass on his lawn in an August 2023 photo. (Steve Bruce/CBC )
Staff recently recommended the city create criteria for private land naturalization, saying bylaws could be updated to allow for "intentional and managed" natural landscapes.
Ross said that guidelines around noxious weeds and keeping sidewalks clear are understandable, but when it comes to grass length he doesn't "need to meet their personal aesthetic."
Letting it grow naturally brings the lawn back to life and provides food to migrating birds, he said.
"It's grass. That's what grass is supposed to do," Ross said. "Why am I not able to keep a little bit of natural habitat in the city?"
These bylaws ought to be 'weeded out'
Nina-Marie Lister, the founder and director of the Ecological Design Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University, said yard naturalization has become more popular in recent years.
"That means having a yard that has more than just turf grass in it," she said. "When we talk about naturalization, we mean the selection of plants, many of them native, that are allowed to grow in a natural state."
These environments often provide food and foraging opportunities for birds and pollinating insects like moths and butterflies, Lister said.
Bylaws that dictate lawn lengthening are based on ideals around conformity, she added.
"There is a kind of idea that, somehow, we had to have a neat, nicely shaven pallet of grass to somehow have a respectful home."
Lister said she wants to see municipalities update their bylaws to encourage biodiversity.
"These bylaws are really outdated and ought, in many cases, to be weeded out themselves," she said. "These are lawns for flourishing, not mowing."
Many bylaws around lawn length have been ruled as "illegal and unconstitutional," Lister said.
"To say that someone's yard is not neat, or tidy, or is not beautiful — those are all terms that the court can successfully regulate."
Ross said he is ready to take legal steps. Later this week, he plans to speak with an environmental attorney.
"It's absolutely not something we're excited one way or the other to do," Ross said. "It's frustrating to know my tax money is going to be used to fight this."