I travel often for work and have often wondered why you don’t see more variation in the vegetation in between the runways and taxiways. It is almost always short grass (Or in desert areas scrub). It is often easy to quickly find airports on satellite images of urban locations because they have the most open grass areas for miles around. Take these two examples (EWR and LAX):

EWR Overhead LAX Overhead

Is there any regulations, restrictions or custom which would prevent the airport from planting wild flowers or even low crops in those open spaces? I can obviously see why planting corn or something tall would be hazardous, but it seems like a waste of open space. Additionally, it takes a lot of water to keep all that grass alive. I also realize that crops would create some logical issues with the farming equipment crossing the taxiways, but they need to mow the area now so that would probably not be insurmountable.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't want to plant anything that would encourage birds. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ Not all green is grass: What are the areas marked in green around the taxiways? $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ Re "it takes a lot of water to keep all that grass alive", not if you use native grasses that are adapted to survive on natural rainfall. Which is why you're likely to see sagebrush &c in desert areas. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ For a moment I thought that was one photo & the climbout from rwy 19 at the northern airport would be 'interesting' $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ Related (or has your answer): Where does the FAA state requirements for how long grass can be? $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Regulations are obviously going to vary by country, so you'll need to specify which country you're talking about to get an answer on legal matters. I will say that I don't know of any country off the top of my head that regulates the vegetation on an airport, but I'm not exactly an expert on foreign law, so take that as you will.

The main reason to keep the vegetation short is to eliminate bird habitat in order to reduce the risk of bird strikes. Bird strikes cause the industry billions of dollars per year (not to mention the people killed in bird-strike-related incidents), so airports do whatever they can to try to keep birds away, and one big technique is to eliminate any plants that may attract them.

  • $\begingroup$ Just to add: tall grass (or shrubs) may encourage nesting. Too many wild flowers will pull insect, and so birds which eat insect. Crops or any plant seed will pull other birds. And rabbits and foxes are also problems. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ Also tortoises in wet areas. Fortunately tortoises mostly don't fly, or veerrryyy slowly. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 15:00

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