Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 489, Grass and Weeds includes rules about height requirements of grass, weeds and vegetation on private properties, including any publicly-owned portions. The bylaw also outlines rules for having a natural garden.
The bylaw requires that property owners cut and remove the grass and weeds on their properties whenever these grow to over 20 centimetres or 8 inches in height. This includes any growth that is not part of a natural garden and was planted to produce ground cover, including wildflowers, shrubs and perennials. Property owners with a natural garden may apply for a natural garden exemption to be exempt from the height restrictions of the bylaw.
Residents can contact 311 to report a property that is overgrown.
The City is currently reviewing the natural garden exemption process. Staff are considering removing the requirement for owners/occupants of private land to apply to for a natural garden exemption. Natural gardens will still need to meet maintenance requirements to ensure health and safety of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
A report is expected at the Planning and Housing Committee in Q2 2021.
If you are interested in being contacted with updates on the work, please subscribe for e-updates. Scroll down to select the Grass and Weeds Bylaw mailing list, submit your email address and then click “Subscribe”.
The bylaw considers grass and weeds to be all noxious weeds and local weeds designated under the provincial Weed Control Act, and any other vegetation growth that does not form part of a natural garden that has been deliberately planted to produce ground cover.
If a property does not meet City standards, the City may send an advisory letter to the property owner notifying them to cut their grass and maintain their lawn. Property owners will be asked to comply with the bylaw by a certain date.
If no action is taken, a bylaw officer will follow up to take appropriate enforcement action. If property owners do not comply with the bylaw, the City can carry out maintenance work to ensure compliance and the costs of the work may be added to the property tax bill.
Natural gardens have environmental benefits and may create a habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. A natural garden is managed within a certain boundary and may both contain native and non-native plants. Unlike neglected properties, a natural garden will not contain overgrown plants or invasive weeds. The Natural Gardens Fact Sheet helps identify what qualifies as a natural garden.
The natural garden exemption process is in place to balance the environmental benefits of these gardens, while also being mindful of health, safety and nuisance considerations. Residents wishing to obtain a natural garden exemption can apply to the City at no cost. A City horticulturalist will inspect the garden and work with the property owner to meet the necessary standards where possible.
View a map of approved natural gardens in Toronto.