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Trying to figure out the city’s new natural landscaping guidelines? It’s a jungle out there – kechambers

Trying to figure out the city’s new natural landscaping guidelines? It’s a jungle out there

Andy Dosett
| Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

If you plan to break free from the never-ending turf grass cycle of seed, fertilize, water, mow and repeat year after year, Bartlesville has opened the door for another option, but it’s not without its challenges. Depending on your yard’s size, location and shape, it can affect what you can and cannot do.

The Bartlesville City Council recently adopted a new ordinance that will allow residents to convert to managed natural landscaping versus traditional turf grass yards.

One important thing to remember is that Bartlesville Municipal Code states that any areas designated as managed natural landscapes must have all turf grass removed. Citizens can’t stop mowing turf grass or plant native grass over turf and call it natural.

To have a natural landscape area that can exceed the 12-inch height restriction that applies to all lawns, it must be within a clearly defined border, not within five feet of a sidewalk, not within ten feet of a road. It cannot occupy more than 50% of the yard area visible from the public right-of-way.

For corner lots, smaller lots and homeowners with sidewalks, a natural lawn will find it a more complicated challenge with more restrictions than those without the caveats.

Natural lawn homeowners will also have to maintain that same five-foot border around the edge of their property where plants can not exceed the 12-inch height restriction unless they have a six-foot privacy fence or the property borders another naturally landscaped area, wetland , pond, lake, stream or natural wooded area.

If you meet all those for exceeding the 12-inch plant height restrictions, it still must be below four feet unless it’s within 15 feet of the house or a fence. Trees and shrubs are not included in those restrictions.

The natural lawn area must also be cut once a year to at least 12-inch in height to remove dead or unmaintained growth.

It would be possible to transition your entire lot into a natural lawn. However, you still have 12-inch height restrictions for 50% of the yard that can be seen from the public right-of-way; and to be able to classify it all as natural, all turf grass would need to be removed even if it never exceeded 12 inches.

Finally, only plants identified as “Oklahoma Proven” or plants that the Oklahoma State University Extension Office has marked as acceptable for Oklahoma may be grown in an area designated as a natural lawn.

Anything designated as a garden that the city defines as a cultivated area dedicated to growing vegetables, fruits, annual and perennial plants, ornamental grasses, or groundcovers, vines, shrubs, or trees in a location within a defined edge or border is exempt from the height, size and location restrictions that a natural lawn has.

Finally, the city included a clause giving the community development director the authority to make exceptions.

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