MARGIE RUDDICK, a designer known for her elegant ecological landscapes, got a summons from the City of Philadelphia last year, citing her East Mount Airy yard as being in violation of the property maintenance code.
“For weeds over 10 inches,” said Ms. Ruddick, 54, standing beside her favorite pokeweed a few weeks ago. By August, it will be laden with purple berries, poisonous to humans but a favorite of the birds.
About a year after she stopped mowing the lawn here in 2005, black cherry seedlings showed up in the tall grasses and wild asters. In the next few years, oaks, mulberry and rose of sharon moved in.
“There wasn’t a lot of order or maintenance, and it did look a little