A question that is bound to come up more often for homeowners and some renters in the summer, as opposed to the winter, is one regarding the Municipality’s yard maintenance rules. What are the rules? How and when are they enforced? What is the purpose of the rules?
Some residents have expressed concern this year, as they do every year, that North Grenville’s yard maintenance rules are too strict, or that it doesn’t make sense for landowners not to have control over their own property, especially in a rural area. Is this really the case? Or do yard maintenance rules serve a good purpose?
North Grenville’s Yards By-Law No. 46-07 leaves some of the rules up for interpretation. There is no specified height limit for grass, but one rule does dictate that “no person shall permit any lands under their control to become untidy, unsightly, unsanitary, unhealthy or dangerous”, listing out several things that could be deposited on a property to make it noncompliant. Examples listed are debris, rubble, garbage, excreta, and more.
Other points in the By-law are made very clear. For example, the By-law specifies that noxious weeds must be removed by the property owner if they appear between May 1 and October 15. The wording of “any lands under their control” is significant because it means that the By-law applies to tenants, not just owners, unless a lease specifies that yard maintenance is the landlord’s responsibility.
Amy Martin, Director of Planning and Development with the Municipality, added some useful information for North Grenville residents. “The Yards By-law is intended to ensure that properties are maintained in an orderly fashion not just for aesthetics, but to reduce the presence and proliferation of noxious weeds and pests”, she said. “Long grass can attract certain pests that can cause a nuisance to property owners and noxious weeds can be a safety issue.”
If there is no maximum allowable grass height specified, how are property owners and renters expected to know what is acceptable? Director Martin was able to explain. “The Yards By-Law does not specify a maximum height for grass whereby it must be maintained. Rather, the By-law provides that lawns are to be maintained to locally accepted standards. This is often a judgement call in the field on the part of the by-law officer,” said Director Martin.
Director Martin explained that in regard to clean yards and unmaintained lawns, the by-law officer always takes an approach of working with the homeowner to achieve compliance. This means that although violations are subject to officers’ interpretations of “locally acceptable standards”, a first step when a violation is found can be a simple discussion with a property owner or renter, letting them know of the violation and how to fix it before other enforcement action needs to be taken. This could be very important in a case where, for example, a property owner does not know that a certain species of plant growing on their property qualifies as a “noxious weed”.
When asked whether by-law officers routinely drive around looking for violations, Director Martin confirmed that “enforcement of by-laws is mostly complaint driven.”
Municipal by-laws that are enforced by by-law services are available on the Municipality’s website at