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PHOTOS: Kansas City Yards Gone Wild

Beth Lipoff

How long can you let your lawn grow before the city gets involved?

In Overland Park, Kansas, that number is 8 inches, according to Kim Hendershot, supervisor of code compliance for the city. In Parkville, Missouri, you can let it grow a whole foot. 

Hendershot and Sean Ackerson, who is the assistant city administrator for Parkville, joined Up To Date last week to talk about city code dos and don'ts. And when it comes to people's yards, homeowners who prefer a natural look can face challenges from the city — and from neighbors.

"You do get that select few who become emotional, their properties are very personal," Hendershot told host Steve Kraske.

She and Ackerson agreed that in their cities, as long as "wild" spaces are designated and well-maintained, they can stay.

The term "wild" means different things to different people, and what some might consider an eyesore, others simply see as naturally beautiful.

Here are some of Kansas City's wild yards:

Donald Jonas Jr. takes pride in his yard in Overland Park, Kansas. He has designated natural areas, which he works hard to maintain. Complaints from an anonymous neighbor once took him to a hearing before the city, but he argued his case and won.

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

This yard at 57th Street and Charlotte in Brookside obscures the house behind it. It is now officially designated in Missouri as an urban forest and features a walking path that passers-by can explore.

Credit Courtesy Photo/Rhianna Weilert

For Rhianna Weilert, who lives in the Westside neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, "wild" meant planting native buffalo grass in her yard. She hasn't mowed or watered her lawn since the first week they planted it.

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

When the owner of this Brookside home decided to install 80 tons of sand in her yard, some neighbors weren't thrilled. The lawn is now more environmentally friendly, and there is no mowing required. Many Brookside residents now know it as the "sandbox."

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.