Glendale 4" tall rule?

The latest ‘Ask Us’ question came from a homeowner in Glendale who was inspired by our garden tour….

Greetings -

My husband and I really enjoyed your Garden Showcase, despite being unable to visit such a small number of the gardens in the tour. A bit overwhelming.

I was particularly interested in the way a number of gardeners had replaced the grass in the parking strips in front of their house (i.e., the strip between the sidewalk and street) with mulch and/or drought tolerant plants. I've been wanting to encourage that in the city of Glendale, but believe it or not, found that there is currently a code on the books that prevent people from planting anything that would grow more than 4" tall. The city person I spoke to liked my idea and said the city has never enforced that 4" rule (to her knowledge), but I cynically don't trust them not to do so in the future. I've written to one of our council people about this, since Glendale most definitely needs to reduce its water use, and also suggested changing the code.

Is there any advice or guidelines you can give me that the Mar Vista Community has offered to help more communities make such changes?


Stephanie, you are right to be cautious as evidenced by this column that Steve Lopez wrote in the LA Times last year. Glendale officials have been known to threaten homeowners with "criminal charges" after switching from water-guzzling landscaping to native California plants and a rock bed. "No brown, all green," an ever-vigilant Glendale official had warned.

With our drought conditions, the time may finally be right to help Glendale City officials become more enlightened!

The group at G3LA (theirs were the homes showcased on Redwood Avenue) is devoted to educating homeowners, design professionals, and the local community in the latest eco-restorative landscape techniques and promoting the principles of low-impact development. They offer workshops designed to provide up-to-date information about the latest environmental issues, as well as cutting-edge techniques and the restorative practices underlying sustainable landscape design. Our constituent group includes designers, architects, planners, contractors, consultants, water suppliers, and water auditors. It would be worth introducing them to your Glendale City Councilman. They are doing a series of Ocean Friendly Garden workshops for the Metropolitan Water District in conjunction with They would be a great asset to help Glendale develop guidelines.

Gary Kamisher of Gary's Greenery notes that the city of Santa Monica has some detailed ordinances you can refer to.

“garden\garden, a demonstration landscape project of the City of Santa Monica and the Metropolitan Water District at Santa Monica College, compares two landscape strategies, sustainable vs. traditional "mow and blow," side-by-side.

The results are in - there is no comparison. Sustainable landscaping enhances our coastal environment, significantly reducing pollution and waste, while saving time, money and water.”

Their site detailing this project includes incredible resource information. There are PDF’s on native garden plant lists, permeable paving info, rainwater infiltration put info and native garden resources.

Please keep us posted on your progress!