Your garden plot may be forfeited if any of the following occur:

  1. Your garden is excessively weedy
  2. You do not fulfill your workday obligation
  3. You violate garden rules

Basic Gardening Rules

We want everyone to have a good experience in the gardens and need to respect our garden neighbors and their efforts. In order to main respect for our community and our gardeners, we must observe the following rules without exception.  In particular, note the following highlighted rules:

  1. Theft: do not take anything from any plot other than your own, even if you think it is abandoned.  No warning is given and this offense is immediately referred to the garden chairs.
  2. Trespassing: do not enter any plot other than your own unless invited.
  3. Boundaries: do not plant outside of the boundaries of your plot. Leave 6 inches unplanted and unfenced on both sides and the back of your plot for neighbors to access water and their plantings.
  4. Tools: do not keep the community tools in your plot or take them home.
  5. Weeds: control weeds and remove them before they go to seed. Do not put weeds in the dumpster. Take them to the designated weed pile for composting.
  6. Water: take care in using the water system. Do not leave water on when you leave or keep others from getting access.

In the gardens we also value neighborliness and respect: get to know your neighbors. If you see strangers in your neighbors’ plots, email the Registrar. Discuss issues respectfully, and bring disputes to the garden committee, if appropriate. Failure to comply with these rules will result in:

  1. Warnings with dates of needed changes.
  2. Review of issues by the garden committee with potential loss of privileges.
  3. Confiscation of plot and banning from community gardens.

If you have questions about these rules, email the Registrar.

Pathways and Boundaries

  • No tools, hoses or weeds in the pathways. Do not extend your garden plot past the boundary markers. All plants in pathways will be mowed.
  • Corner markers delineate the boundaries of individual plots, and must be left in place. You may not move these markers. Contact the Garden Registrar if you are unsure of your plot boundary.
  • Each plot (including plots with fences) must maintain an unplanted path around the edge of the plot so that other gardeners can access water and plantings.
  • Fences: perimeter fences around plots are discouraged. Fences harbor weeds and obstruct mowing. Any fences that are built must be easily movable and weed free. Fences should not touch the ground for easier weeding.


  • Garden carts and community tools (tools with pink or yellow handles) should not be removed from the gardens. Return these items to the shed area. Tall plantings should not be placed where they will shade neighboring plots. Tall support structures must be sturdy and unlikely to fall on neighbors’ plantings and away from the plot lines.
  • Each plot must be used for planting of flowers, vegetables, fruit, cover crops or herbs. Those with underutilized plots may be requested to share with gardeners on the waiting list.
  • No permanent structures are allowed; plant supports should be minimal.
  • Dogs are not desirable in the gardens and must be on a leash while passing through. Please consider that children often eat directly out of the gardens and do not allow your dogs into other plots.

Gardening practices

  • Eagle Heights and organic section of University Houses: any pesticides or fertilizers used must be approved for organic production. The garden website gives information on how to maintain an organic garden. If in doubt about any material, email the Garden Registrar.
  • University Houses: chemical fertilizers and pesticides are allowed with care in some areas. No pesticides/herbicides should be stored in plots.

Prohibited Plants and other items

  • No fires are allowed within the gardens.
  • Wood chips provided to the gardens by the Preserve may be used in garden plots. For reasons of possible plant disease and pest spread and potential chemical treatment, landscaping wood chips from outside the Preserve are not allowed. Gardeners should be aware that wood chips decay slowly and leaves may be a better mulch material for most uses.
  • No glass should be used in the gardens for safety reasons since broken glass is difficult to remove.
  • Privately-owned power equipment such as tillers and mowers are not allowed in the gardens for safety reasons. Only UW staff can use Garden power equipment. (Small hand-held drills or other tools are allowed.)
  • Do not plant comfrey, annual artemisia, or mint. Do not plant trees in your garden plot. Trees that sprout will be removed.
  • Produce from these gardens cannot be sold. Gardeners can share vegetables with family and friends but gardeners should realize that UW staff are prohibited from accepting gifts from Housing residents.


  • WEEDS MUST BE KEPT UNDER CONTROL. Weedy plots will be identified by a community jury. If your garden is identified as weedy you will be notified via email and given two weeks to clear it of weeds. If your garden is identified twice during the same year, you will forfeit the plot to the waiting list. If you wish to request an appeal to the garden committee, a written plan to avoid problems in the future will be required.
  • All weeds should be composted within your plot or taken to the weed pile.

Refund Policy

  • Gardeners who choose to forfeit their plot must contact the garden registrar before May 1st to receive a refund of half the fee. After this date no refunds will be given.
  • If a primary gardener leaves the gardens before the end of the season, he/she may transfer the plot to another individual ONLY if this person contacts the registrar and:
    1. is listed as the secondary gardener;
    2. is approved by the registrar;
    3. satisfies the plot workday requirement if not already done.
  • Any plot “given” to another individual without satisfying these three conditions will be considered forfeit and reassigned.

No Workday Fee

Gardeners who are unable to work a shift at a workday can pay a “no workday option” fee of $32 which must be paid by the 1st of December.

Garden Resources and Services

The gardens are part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Please respect natural areas outside the garden boundaries. As part of the Preserve, we observe their hours and are closed from 10 pm to 4 am.

  • Driving and Parking: private vehicles are not allowed in the garden area. Parking is available in designated spots on Eagle Heights Drive and at the south end of the basketball court at University Houses. Vehicles with a state issued handicap parking permit or gardeners with mobility issues should contact the garden registrar for a special permit for parking exceptions.
  • Gardening Information: many resources are available on the Eagle Heights Gardens website, including a manual for beginning organic gardeners.
  • Water: spigots are turned on in the gardens by April 25th and turned off in the fall near the end of October. Water turn-on is subject to weather and frost considerations. The water in the gardens is Madison city water. Please report any water problems (by email) as soon as possible to the Garden Registrar
    • Eagle Heights: check the distance before you purchase your hose, as some gardens require longer hoses (75 ft) for complete coverage.
    • University Houses: hoses are provided.
  • Garden Paths: the common garden paths are maintained by the garden workers but gardeners should be mindful of the need to maintain the path integrity and avoid digging or trenching into this area. Paths should be kept clear and free of obstacles or plantings.
  • Garden Carts: never tip the carts over sideways. Carts must be shared. Empty and return the cart to the garden shed when you are finished gardening for the day.
  • Compost and Lake Weeds: compost and lake plants removed from Lake Mendota are sometimes available. These are NOT fertilizers, but mixing these materials with the soil in your plot will improve the soil texture.
  • Garbage: place all garbage in the garbage cans or dumpster at the garden entrance. No plants in garbage cans or dumpster. No garbage in the weed piles.
  • Mulch: leaves are collected from Eagle Heights and Shorewood Hills in October and November and delivered to the gardens. Leaves are NOT fertilizers, but spreading a thick layer will slow the growth of weeds throughout the season.

Plot Assignment Policy

Due to our affiliation with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Division of University Housing, priority in plot assignment is given to residents of University Apartments and current students of UW-Madison. All plots are rented for a year at a time and no guarantees are made of continued use. Returning gardeners in good standing are given priority over new gardeners, and can request each year to return to their previous plot.