The City’s Grass and Weeds Bylaw has been updated and the new Turfgrass and Prohibited Plants Bylaw came into effect on January 1, 2022. Under the updated bylaw, the process for natural garden exemptions has been removed and all property owners or occupants are required to maintain their properties and ensure that health and safety requirements are met.

Be a good neighbour! Learn about the do’s and don’ts for your lawn and how to grow pollinator-friendly gardens.

  • Cut your turfgrass on your lawn when the growth exceeds 20 centimetres.
  • Keep your property free of prohibited plants listed under the bylaw that can pose a threat to human health or natural areas.
  • Delight neighbours with your garden but don’t obstruct sidewalks or roadways, or restrict driver and pedestrian sight lines, and visibility of traffic control devices.

Owners or occupants of private properties are required to cut the turfgrass on their lawn whenever the growth exceeds 20 centimetres in height. Turfgrass includes various perennial grasses grown for lawns. These are grasses typical of traditional lawn that forms a dense, uniform turf if mown.

The new Turfgrass and Prohibited Plants Bylaw has removed the process for natural garden exemptions. Under the bylaw all properties are required to maintain their lawns and gardens with a focus on health and safety requirements, such as managing the height of turfgrass, keeping properties free of prohibited plants listed in the bylaw and ensuring that sightlines are not obstructed.

The owners or occupants of private properties must keep their land free of the following prohibited plants. These plants are prohibited on private land because they threaten the environment and/or human health and safety.

Please see the list of prohibited plants below, along with a sample photo and helpful fact sheets that will provide more information and show you how the plant looks like in different stages of stages of growth.

 

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Resources:

Canada Thistle

Common buckthorn; Glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica; Frangula alnus)

Resource:

Common Buckthorn

Dog-strangling vine (Cynanchum rossicum; Cynanchum louiseae)

Resource:

Dog-strangling vine

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Resource:

Garlic mustard

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)

Resource:

Giant Hogweed

Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica var. japonica)

Resource:

Japanese Knotweed

Phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. australis)

Resources:

Phragmites

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Resources:

Poison Ivy

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Resource:

Purple Loosestrife

Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

Resources:

Ragweed

Toronto is home to a wide range of pollinators, including 364 species of bees and 112 species of butterflies. They provide important ecosystem services such as pollination, which allows plants to produce seeds, fruits and new plants. They are also an important source of food for birds and contribute to the biodiversity in our city.

Habitat loss is the greatest threat to pollinators. That’s why the easiest and most effective way to help native pollinators is to create a pollinator garden with native plants. Native plants provide pollen and nectar which pollinators need to feed themselves and their larvae, as well as places to nest and overwinter.

An ideal pollinator garden will include the following:

  • food sources – such as pollen and nectar from native flowering plants
  • nesting and overwintering sites – such as hollow stems, dead wood, fallen leaves and access to bare sandy soil
  • larval host plants – such as milkweed

Here are some tips to help you create a pollinator garden, including lists of native flowers, trees and shrubs. The plants you choose and how you maintain your garden are important considerations.

Get a grant for creating pollinator habitat in your neighbourhood from PollinateTO.

Meet Toronto’s Official Bee, a metallic green sweat bee named Agapostemon virescens.

Residents can contact 311 to report a property that is not following these bylaw requirements. Complainants are encouraged to clearly identify their concern when contacting 311 and submit photo evidence or other information whenever possible, to support the City’s investigations.

If a property does not meet City standards, the City may send an advisory letter to the property owner notifying them to comply with bylaw requirements. Property owners will be asked to comply with the bylaw by a certain date.

If no action is taken, a bylaw enforcement officer will follow up to take appropriate action to achieve compliance with the bylaw. If property owners do not comply with the bylaw, the City can carry out maintenance work to ensure compliance and the cost of that work may be added to the property tax bill.

Residents can contact 311 to submit a complaint about a Bylaw violation. If there is a complaint or information about a possible violation, Bylaw Enforcement Officers investigate, educate and/or take enforcement actions.

The goal is to resolve issues and ensure that property owners and occupants are following the bylaws. Each issue is addressed on a case-by-case basis to make sure reasonable, fair and appropriate actions are taken. For example, in some cases the issue may be resolved through education. In other cases, further enforcement action is required.

If a property owner does not comply with the Turfgrass and Prohibited Plants Bylaw, they are guilty of an offence. They may be issued a ticket and be required to pay a fine for the offence outlined in the table below. The City can also carry out maintenance work to ensure compliance and the cost of the work may be added to the property tax bill if property owners do not comply.

 

Offence Bylaw Provision Fine
Fail to cut turfgrass when height/length exceeds 20 centimetres 489-2A $500.00
Fail to keep land free of local weed 489-2.1 A(1) $500.00
Fail to maintain vegetative growth to not obstruct sidewalks or roadways 489-2.1 A(2) $500.00
Fail to maintain vegetative growth to not restrict driver and pedestrian sight lines 489-2.1 A(3) $500.00
Fail to maintain vegetative growth in accordance with health and safety condition 489-2.1 A(4) $500.00
Fail to comply with an order/notice of violation/direction 489-3.1 A $500.00

 

Subscribe for e-Updates

Type (don’t copy and paste) your email address into the box below and then click “Subscribe” to receive updates related to the City of Toronto’s Turfgrass and Prohibited Plants bylaw (Chapter 489, formerly the Grass and Weeds bylaw). You will receive an email with instructions to confirm your subscription.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

The personal information on this form is collected under the authority of the City of Toronto Act, 2006. The information is used to allow the City to send you an email to confirm your wish to subscribe to a City of Toronto e-notice. Questions about this collection may be directed to the ListServ Administrator, Strategic Communications Division, City of Toronto, Toronto City Hall, 7th floor, West Tower, Toronto M5H 2N2. Email: webfeedback@toronto.ca. By subscribing to one of the City of Toronto’s e-updates you are providing express consent, as defined by the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), to receive email updates from the City of Toronto.