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My township calls my lawn ‘a nuisance’ (2015) (washingtonpost.com)
122 points by teslacar on Mar 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments

I grew up in a suburb where everyone was expected to have their lawns properly manicured and treated to prevent dandelions and other weeds. For about two years recently I lived in an intentional community, and discovered two things.

First, untreated lawns are beautiful. Different colors, gorgeous blues and yellows, emerge as different "weeds" take root during different times of year. Now, nothing speaks to me more of the blandness of the suburbs than its staid, boring green lawns.

Second, I had NO IDEA that grass reseeded itself if you just let it flower. In fact, I had no idea grass flowered. If parts of your lawn are worn by activity (read children), all you have to do is let it grow and flower and it will "heal" itself.

Yes, I know how ignorant I sound. But that's my point. Homogenous, controlled environments breed ignorance. And in more ways than a child's lack of basic understanding of grass as a plant.

You speak to what frustrates me about living in a large city. Everything's been pushed aside and replaced with concrete and asphalt. Driving and walking around this city just feels dismal. The concrete and asphalt make everything feel hard, oppressive, and stinky. The summer heat never leaves. Nor does the litter ever leave. Whereas if there was just a little less concrete and asphalt at least there wouldn't be concrete/asphalt to fall apart. Just maybe there would be plants growing in the excess. In attempting to engineer a city people wound up with less than was there initially.

I find that places built for cars tend to be unpleasant. Where people walk more, the urban environment is often kept in a state that is more enjoyable. I especially enjoy narrow streets.

a particularly nice, narrow street in my city: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/2b/ea/06/2bea...

an article on the benefits of narrow streets: http://www.andrewalexanderprice.com/blog20140422.php

Where do you live?

I've never been to the US so my mental picture of it (which Google Maps seems to confirm) is 99% extremely wide roads, not European-style walkable at all.

So I think, I could never move there (I can't drive a car) and places where I wouldn't need a car are to expensive to live in (NY, Washington).

Are there many Londons in the US?

EDIT: oh, it's Boston.

Yes, it is Boston. Most American cities are sparse and have wide roads and are not compatible with walking as a form of transportation. Boston included. Boston is one of the older cities in the country, so it retains some of the European-style walkability in a select few areas, like Beacon Hill, which is the neighbourhood in the picturesque street photo. There used to be more neighbourhoods like that in American cities, but they were destroyed after the second world war for "urban renewal"/"slum clearance" - to drive out the poor and minorites, and to build car-oriented neighborhoods and highways.

The destruction of Boston's old West End neighbourhood is an infamous example: http://www.bostonstreetcars.com/the-west-ends-transformation...

Here's before and after of Hastings Street and the surrounding area n Detroit: https://detroitenvironment.lsa.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/...

The surviving walkable neighbourhoods like Beacon Hill in Boston and Greenwich Village in New York (which was almost destroyed to build a highway) are now some of the most desired in the country. You would think people would want to build more neighbourhoods like these, but it is actually illegal due to car-friendly zoning codes, and politically impossible, and quite unpopular - car dependence is all many people have ever known, and a dense neighbourhood without copious free parking and wide roads is seen almost as a personal attack on our way of life.

Thanks a lot for this. I wonder what it'd take for the tide to turn against cars. That picture is depressing.

Ding ding, I'd prefer to be there.

You've perfectly describes why I like living in the subburbs/rurally so much and could never live in the city.

concrete and asphalt isn't so bad in cities that are built for walking

My mother, who was a gardener/landscaper, kept an untreated yard when I was a child (and still does). I always enjoyed the non-uniformity and fullness of it, in addition to the seasonality. While some neighbours' grass lawns would develop bald patches or dead grass in spots where light and water were not ideal, we would just have a different mix of plants ("weeds") in those areas. Under our trees we would get more shade-loving plants, for example. Every niche is filled in by nature.

I fully agree with you there. I have heard that some people referring to the house I grew up in as "Villa Villekulla", which was - amongst other things - due to the garden surrounding it.

On the other hand, I only recognized how incredibly dull it must be to live in some places when I visited northern Belgium and for the first time witnessed whole neighborhoods with the "perfectly trimmed" kind of gardening.

It really depends. In some cases I can understand the local government requiring homeowners to mow their lawn.

I saw a similar story in the UK [1] (Photo-only link [2]). There's no way I'd want to be living next door to that.

[1] http://www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/news/hillmorton-garden-horr...

[2] http://www.rugbyadvertiser.co.uk/webimage/1.7327726.14605647...

That's not an "untreated lawn", that's a garbage dump; I don't think anyone is defending that.

At first I read "A mutilated garter snake, a sliced frog and countless slashed grasshoppers. That was the scene of carnage" and laughed. "Carnage indeed. Grow up," I said out loud. If people wanted to live in the middle of a bunch of bats and snakes and shit, they'd go live in the middle of nowhere instead of next to other people.

But then I looked up Alexandria, Ohio.

"Alexandria is a village in Licking County, Ohio, United States. The population was 517 at the 2010 census"

517! Wow! And they don't even live _in_ Alexandria. They live outside it!

So these people did go live in the middle of nowhere, and whatever counts out there as the agency of local dominion has decided that plots of land in the middle of nowhere need to be free of animals. Wooo boy.

I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I'm used to dealing with large animals killed by coyotes, old age, and butchering.

But I don't like your attitude towards death. You might not care about snakes and frogs and such. That's fine. But they're neat animals, and it's not childish at all to not want to harm them.

It's actually the definition of childish disregard and lack of empathy to be amused by, or indifferent to the suffering of animals. It's not uncommon, but it's the sign of a basic failing of character and cognition.

It's about having a good reason. Coyotes gotta eat, nothing lives forever, and a slaughter is a harvest. But killing a snake so you can have a trimmed lawn you don't even want, well yeah, no wonder.

It's also worth noting the value snakes and frogs provide in the population control of other less desireable rodents and insects.

I don't know what you're responding to in the original comment. S/he appears to agree with the article generally.

Oh, I agree on the whole. Just the first line of their comment rubbed me the wrong way.

I somewhat get that, but in this case i think it's in the context of the "natural world". We all know it's not just lollipops and cupcakes out there.

I had to force myself to continue reading after the first line, it soiled the rest of the article for me.

Care to explain why?

This type of regulation should be the province of HOAs, which have covenants that home owners agree to when buying their homes. It shouldn't be part of state law, and this one sounds particularly over-reaching. Basic property rights should dictate that "nuisance" be clearly defined in a very limited way.

And she has an entire acre, at least 4x larger than the typical lot size. At what size does her property become a "farm"?

I live in Arizona and have a lawn. It's expensive to upkeep and requires a ton of water. Many homes in my neighborhood have "natural" landscaping, basically rocks and cactus. I would too if I didn't have kids and a big dog. Natural is much more environmentally sound, and should be encouraged, not fined.

HOAs are the height of absurdity pertaining to land ownership, I will never understand why someone would volunteer to pay a monthly fee (basically a tax) to have a group of bozos tell you what you can and can't do with your own property.

If the rules imposed by even a mild HOA were put in place by a local government there would be protests 24/7.

You don't have to spend too much time wondering, since its prima facia self-evident.

HOA's exist because they work out financially better than the alternatives. HOA's may not be for you, but for those that like higher property values, they are an acceptable trade-off.

Do they really? That's the line I kept hearing when I was searching for my home but it seemed they were overly inflated, and buyers were drifting away from the silly harassment and pain of HOAs.

Id say the evidence is clear: if you want to truly own your home, don't buy in an HOA. If you want others to make decisions for you, dictate how your home will look, and monitor you like a police force, then choose an HOA.

"if you want to truly own your home"

Property tax?

I'm not here to extoll the joys of paying and dealing with an HOA, they can be a hassle - I know it.

However, consider the alternatives: Move out to unincorporated land, build your 5 acre dream home, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc. Watch as a dump and trailer park open next door...consider what your options are.

>However, consider the alternatives: Move out to unincorporated land, build your 5 acre dream home, swimming pools, tennis courts, etc. Watch as a dump and trailer park open next door...consider what your options are.

Plenty of incorporated land in the US without HOAs. While some parts of the country can't seem to exist without them, much of the country (including where you have really nice homes) do not have them. No trailer parks next door - they can't afford the land.

Hell up here in the PNW house prices will be high regardless of what's next door. In Portland there could be a junkie house and your house still be valued over 600k+

These are the problems deed restrictions take care of, not HOAs.

Property tax is nothing more than the government exerting control over your home. You'll never truly own your home with a property tax, point taken. You appeared to argue in favor of HOAs with tired lines of financial stability, with no evidence. Anyone or anything that has the power to take away your property and home is, IMHO, a mortal threat that should be removed.

HOA's exist because they work out financially better than the alternatives

Of course financially they work out better than the alternatives, a bunch of volunteer obsessives straight out of Wikipedia is cheaper than an array of trained bureaucrats following due process.

Some people won't go near Wikipedia and HOAs. It's a quality of life issue as well. It starts with the architectural regulations, which are always 10 years behind the current fashion, and continues with the position of your basketball hoop. You hear the HOA apologists talk as if towns didn't manage to get on top of nuisance properties.

HOA. All the oppression of government, and none of the due process.

>ou don't have to spend too much time wondering, since its prima facia self-evident.

You should know: When you say something is self-evident, you will be called out on it.

>HOA's exist because they work out financially better than the alternatives.

Definitely not self-evident. I've talked to real estate agents who do not agree that it affects house values. My neighborhood has no HOA. Lots of non-ideal lawns her. One block south of us they do have an HOA. Very neat lawns, and houses all properly painted. Those houses do not sell for more.

Perhaps it does impact the price of the house, but I'd wager it is a miniscule effect compared to all other factors (size, neighborhood amenities, schools, etc).

I find that most people who make the claim about property values use it as a post-hoc justification to wanting to enforce a certain aesthetic on others.

Out of all the private gated communities in US with houses >$1M - what percentage of those have HOA's?

Point being, the impact on a $200K house may be negligible if its HOA or not - however once you move into >$1M home values they would be almost exclusively HOA. This is the self-evident part of the argument.

>Point being, the impact on a $200K house may be negligible if its HOA or not - however once you move into >$1M home values they would be almost exclusively HOA. This is the self-evident part of the argument.

What percentage of HOA's are for >$1M houses? A small minority.

In my town, all the >$1M houses on sale right now have no HOA, BTW.

It wouldn't surprise me if nationally, HOAs are more correlated at the middle price range. Around 1 M most people don't like being told what to do. At the next level, sure, they probably exist just to pay for fancy country clubs or something.

It depends on your HOA.

Ours only exists to pool funds to split snowplowing in the winter and eventually resurface our private drive. Everything is run as a direct/pure democracy in the annual meeting, which is easy when there are 15 of us and nothing to talk about except snowplowing, resurfacing, whether we want to change the dues, who has new kids/grandkids/pets/jobs/lawn tractors, and who brought the best cookies this year.

There are no HOA rules above those already in place by the township, state, and federal governments. I can safely say that this status is unlikely to result in 24/7 protests.

While sometimes HOA rules can get a bit ridiculous, are you really saying you can't understand why someone would want to pay a tax in order to allow a governing body to enforce a common set of rules (and provide for public spaces)?

HOA fees pay for community upkeep as well, like a community park or pool or splashpad.

Some HOAs are bad, but to color them all as useless is surprisingly ignorant. They exist for a reason and it's why they are so ubiquitous. If your neighbor painted their house in bright yellow or keeps a busted down car in the lawn, which will affect your own property value, then you might see why HOAs exist.

> I will never understand why someone would volunteer to pay a monthly fee (basically a tax) to have a group of bozos tell you what you can and can't do with your own property.

Really? Are you being honest?? You really don't understand???

It's so you can tell your neighbors what they can and can't do with their own property. You give up your own freedom too, of course, but no one joins an HOA because they're worried how their own lawn might now.

>This type of regulation should be the province of HOAs, which have covenants that home owners agree to when buying their homes.

While we both agree with the problem this person is having, I'm the opposite of you with regards to your statement. HOAs can have a lot more power with a lot less oversight. If one is going to have these kinds of rules, they should be in the city/state rules or not at all.

The "agree to when buying their homes" is a faulty way of looking at it. You also agree to laws of the city/state you live in. No one is preventing you from leaving if you don't like it.

At what size does her property become a "farm"?

Even under the loosest definitions of the word "farm", she would need a few multiples of her current acreage to qualify. An acre means you can have a large garden.

> At what size does her property become a "farm"?

When it is zoned for agriculture.

At what size does her property become a "farm"?

Size doesn't have much to do with it, and neither does a barn in any way: It more matters on zoning and location.

Had a friend looking for a place with space for horses: Even a horse barn didn't mean she could keep them there. Same for my parents when they bought a hobby farm. One seemed perfect - 10+ acres, but the HOA where the house and barn sat didn't allow for the farm animals.

An acre is not a farm.

In parts of the world and acre certainly could be a very productive farm.

An example in North America - "With only 1½ acres cultivated in permanent beds, the farm grosses more than 100 000$ per acre with operating margins of about 60 per cent, enough to financially sustain his family." http://www.themarketgardener.com/

You missed the line right above that:

"an internationally recognized 10-acre micro-farm"

Even 10 acres is considered "micro". Also, that's 1.5 acres of cultivated permanent beds on 10 acres.

For a 1 acre farm, where are the homestead, barns, equipment(tractors, tillers, etc), animals, etc located? All of that takes up space, which can't be used for growing. You need more than a single acre to actually have an acre of growing area.

As a grain farmer, one of the farms I work is only 3 acres. The answer to your question is simple: You keep them at another farm.

True that..

What we find many a time, is that townships and cities have an extraordinary amount of power to cause problems for landowners. We all think only HoA's can do this... and that's blatantly not true.

What exactly is a nuisance? Right now in this case is an untended yard. It's also been "improper house paint color". Or too many vehicles. Or too much traffic. Or harkening to older worse times, "wrong skin color" (just noticed the photo... possible sigh).

But how much control should government have over private property? As long as I'm not doing anything illegal, they shouldn't have any holding on my affairs... But then that's the root of the issue, is with an Ohio law allowing control to townships with an undefined term "nuisance".

> Right now in this case is an untended yard.

The article mentions that non-native species are removed. In other words, the yard is tended to. It simply is not tended to in a way approved by the township.

Ah, true that. But I'm looking at another probable reason..

Ohio, rural, ~400 people in county. Yeah, I'd be willing to bet money on "Living while black". It's not common, especially in areas like SV and high-tech areas. But the Appalachians and foothills are their own.. uniqueness. And Other-ism is definitely a concern and issue.

Leaf removal is similar and related. Instead of allowing the leaves to decompose and nourish the land, we remove them in a process that is often environmentally taxing and an actual nuisance. Big, diesel-burning trucks to haul away the leaves, leaf blowers running for hours. People are normally obsessed with living in a quiet neighbourhood, but I guess they hate leaves enough to set that aside.

Don’t Bag Your Leaves: An Analysis of Nutrient Loss and Soil Depletion for Leaf Removal https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/dont-bag-your-l...

If you're forced to take up at least set aside some to compost over the year. It's amazing how must perfect fertilizer people throw away to only buy it back later.

A lawn is a little miniature farm, it yields a useless crop you maintain and ritualistically harvest once a week. Do it, or else...

I mean, some yards are for kids to play in, but most lawns are for nobody 99% of the time. I can look out the various windows of my home and spot about 50 yards and there's nobody in any of them. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon. When I do see people, they're doing yard work. We're so weird.

Article is from [2015].

When my friend found a baby bunny and decided to keep him, we found out it's illegal to do so. Which was shocking. But looking further into it, it made sense. These kind rabbits are nothing like the domesticated ones and almost always dies in captivity. An article I read said it happened 4-6 weeks after captivity and this one died in 7.

It's unfortunate the article doesn't explain what the 'nuisance' is in this case. But what was the reason to have such strict laws in the first place? I ask not because I don't like nature but one sided stories often appear shocking but aren't that extreme when both sides are figured out.

Why doesn't he put wrought iron fence along the sidewalk and a small sign next the gate thats says "Smith's Flower Garden" and tell the local officials to shove it and admire his beautiful garden.

I cannot speak to this case, but when our neighbor stopped mowing (out of laziness and absence not some sort of viewpoint), it seems that the number of mosquitos increased to nuisance level.

That definitely happens, and the population of deer ticks goes way up too. I tell you what, finding deer ticks on your kids is huge motivation for mowing. I take a "mow the weeds" approach, I don't care what grows in my lawn, but I'm not going to let it get long enough to harbor ticks.

When we moved in to our house we didn't have the grass mowed for a few weeks. That was enough to have a cobra show up.

After that we're quite dilligent at having the grass mowed every two weeks.

> main point of growing a natural yard is to attract wildlife

Is there a consensus on attracting wildlife to places where humans live? Having grown up in a place where every year at least one person in the village died from snake bites, I do not think I personally want to go back to those conditions.

Consensus? Not likely, but there are gardeners who want to attract kinds of birds, butterflies, bees and perhaps other wildlife which from a city pov are neutral (not seen as pests). Of course there can be outliers who look to attract what others consider pests or nuisance animals like rodents, raccoons, and other disease spreading animals.

Where this piece loses me is when it starts advocating for a science based approach to setting standards for our lawns. I don't want to replace the suburban housewife lawn police with a new eco-centric version. Can't we just couch the argument in live and let live individual property rights? That way you can have your tall grass, they can have their trimmed shrubs, and we set out values at an individual and personal level rather than as a community.

That would be wonderful, but it falters on the idea that your tall grass attracts mice and snakes and suchlike which will then cause some sort of problem with my trimmed shrubs.

(I don't think that's how it actually works, but it's the sort of counter-claim you hear advanced. Don't ask me to defend it; I can play devil's advocate pretty well, but to do so I need to be able to see the devil's point of view, and in this case I can't - where I live, the claim's often made about rats, but my observation has been that Baltimore rats don't give a good goddamn whether a yard is mowed or not.)

If your lawn is unkempt, it may become a breeding ground for vermin and make weed and invasive species control all the more difficult.

If I want to sell my house, the value is somewhat diminished by your presence. Ergo, peer pressure and government ordinance arise to settle the dispute.

Otoh, if you want to live somewhere without those things, get a home in the country where you can get more acres for your buck.

Normally, I would agree that individuals should be able to do as they please with their property; I'm typically a libertarian fellow. In this case, though, it's fairly obvious that "proper maintenance" is established to prevent harm to others, and that harm can be objectively measured.

With all of that said, I definitely wouldn't live anywhere with a housing association; there are limits to the above argument that I find they frequently cross.

> get a home in the country where you can get more acres for your buck.

> In this case

S/he is living in the country.

I got that bit, though it's far less common to have problems out there like this. Being in the country isn't enough, of course, but it's a first step for the people most commonly afflicted with onerous (or seemingly onerous) regulations.

> Can't we just couch the argument in live and let live individual property rights?

Sure, but that's the easy road to never settling the burnt feelings and the idea that your neighbor is "getting away with lawn murder".

Basing the standard in eco-science may mean a standard that everyone hates, but it's firmer ground that can be argued rationally.

One of the problems with such a lawn in an urban or suburban environment is it is the perfect environment for vermin such as mice and rats.

My neighbour has a small area behind their garage that has long weeds and grass. It's about 5 meters square but it's got loads of mice in it.

Even all the neighbourhood cats combined can't catch all the mice since the mice breed so fast. The mice have started to invade other barns and homes of neighbours but at this point the amount is controllable.

It's an older couple who own the property so people are not going to say anything. And it's out of sight but it's amazing how a little thing, grass area I mean, can blow up into a problem with so many mice.

The previous owners were junk collectors and lived in the driveway in an RV and only worked outside at night ever see The Burbs movie? Some people really want or need or should be in a home in the country but they can't afford to move.

Part of me wonders if the people who rail against picky over regulation have ever had a really bad neighbor.

A municipality's zoning laws (variations of residential, agricultural and commercial/industrial) usually preclude what you can do on that land. The restrictions could be further defined by ordinances and covenants recorded with the municipality. If neighbors are able to complain about her land usage, I would assume she is not zoned agricultural. Anecdotal Sources: I own a dozen or so acres on agricultural zoned land, surrounded by houses, which I keep as a meadow.

On an emotional level, I am repulsed by bleeding hearts who start an article with pathos for sliced sneks and grasshoppers.

Sounds like the author did something to piss off her neighbors. The city wouldn't get involved without a complaint, right? Sounds like one of the neighbors is a squeaky wheel...

To avoid situations like this either go to the city first and ask for an exemption. This shows them that you aren't some slacker, you're intentionally doing this. Offer to play wildflower seeds and such -- will sound nice. And get to know your neighbors. Send them a basket of cookies on Christmas... Tiff's Treats... they aren't very expensive.

In some cities, folks do go around and look for this sort of thing, unfortunately.

In the grassy area along the interchange where I-74 ends and curves into I-80 there's a sign that says "Prairie Restoration".


It's over grown with wild flowers and the like. I always wondered what it would take to have my backyard designated that way.

Lawns are a two-fold problem. First, they force you to waste a bunch of land on lawns. In our county, the minimum lot size is about a quarter of an acre. In our pre-zoning code neighborbood, lots are less than one third that size and everything works just fine.

Second, municipal governments make it illegal to actually do anything with that land other than wasting it as a lawn. Can't have chickens, can't plant it, etc.

The ethos of suburbia is conspicuous consumption, especially conspicuous consumption of land, and actually using it to produce something useful makes it more of an investment. This is also why it's illegal to carve off part of your house and rent it out, generally hard to keep boarders, illegal to actually engage in any kind of business in your house, and so on. I guess the ideal is to be like the landed gentry in their country manor, which also explains the obsession with lawns.

I've had my house in Northern California for 8.5 years, and I've mowed the lawn perhaps five times, and I never water it. Normally I just let it do it's thing.

In the winter and spring it's full and green with beautiful white and yellow wildflowers, and in the summer and fall it's a nice desertscape with a few small shrubs.

With all the rains this year the green is lasting a lot longer than usual.

Come to the midwest. When it's warm, you have to mow almost every time it rains.

That's as long as you are lucky enough to have a break between rainy days. I solved this by moving to Norway - shorter growing season.

As a relatively new homeowner I absolutely detest the government trying to dictate these little things. There are many things a homeowner can do that doesn't look right, but so long as it doesn't harm anyone else, does not present a clear and absolute danger, I say leave them be. Another reason to avoid HOA's at that.

In some climates the tall grass can become completely dry and a genuine fire hazard. That's a good time to cut it.

The closer together we live, the more we want laws to ensure quality of life. But laws tend to be black-and-white, no grey area.

This couple wants an exemption from the law, and it may be reasonable in their case. But that doesn't mean the law isn't for the greater good. Just that the law isn't highly nuanced.

In this case, the law is one big grey area. It forbids a lawn that "constitutes a nuisance", but doesn't define what a "nuisance" is.

In https://www.amazon.com/Homo-Deus-Brief-History-Tomorrow/dp/0... there is an interesting|amusing diversion into the history of the lawn iirc.

I believe there was a supreme court ruling on nuisance laws....can't put my fingers on it at the moment. However, my recollection is that, as applied to noise, expect decibels had to be defined in the law for it to be legal. I assume something similar would hold true for landscaping.

Give people a tax credit to ditch their lawn. That with having a lawn tax (or excess water use tax) would be an effective solution to reduce what is generally a waste of water and a poor use of space, particularly in arid regions.

"Ditch" as in give away? (if so, how?) or "ditch" as in dig a ditch around it?

Dig a big moat and fill it with alligators, each alligator gets a $5000 tax credit so the more alligators the bigger the tax credit?

Anyway, "ditch" as in lose or remove, it's American slang.

No one has mentioned chiggers.

Those thing will eat you alive in tall grass. I have 18 acres I don't mow, and don't live on. Though the house I do live in, in suburbia, I keep that lawn mowed to keep the chiggers at bay.

Semi-related to the article: how many people click 'like' on facebook 'save the bees' articles in the morning, then poison their dandelions in the afternoon? Here's the easiest/laziest thing you can do to 'save the bees': when dandelions are out in the spring, maybe take a one week break from mowing them down... and don't spray them with weed killer.

Dandelions are some of the first food available to bees in the spring after a long hard winter of shivering. Please help them thrive!

"The stigma that comes with the look of an unmowed lawn was hard to push through (no pun intended)" - Made me chuckle.

Our society basically worships grasses, for some odd reason.

Sounds like a great YC pitch - engineer a more "lush" crabgrass that looks 99% as good but uses half the water, less fertilizer, and less care.

You just described turf-type tall fescue, which is the recommended low-maintenance lawn for the mid-Atlantic. It might not do well in Ohio though since it's a bit cooler.

If this woman weren't trying so hard to make a point, she would get the same natural grass that is grown on the side of highways and then mow it high every month or two. Highway departments don't spend a ton on maintenance, the grass isn't irrigated, and it hosts a variety of wildflowers, birds, rodents, etc. The grass on the side of the highway is planted like any other grass. They typically select grasses native to the area because they require little maintenance, so they will hold the soil down and prevent erosion.

How does one tend a lawn in the 'mid-Atlantic'?

We're in what they call the "transition zone," meaning we have moderately cold winters and moderately hot summers. So the climate is not optimal for cool-season grass because the summer is too hot, and not optimal for warm-season grass because the winter is too cold. Generally the experts recommend tall fescue, which is a cool-season grass bred to withstand drought and hot summers. Unlike Kentucky bluegrass, which spreads with rhizomes, tall fescue tends to grow in bunches so it requires occasional overseeding to keep it thick. However, it is deeper rooted than bluegrass, gets fewer diseases, and needs less water.

I think you mean something different by 'mid Atlantic' to me; probably not the middle of a cold, northern ocean...?


By the definition there, much of the mid-atlantic states are not in the grass transition zone though.

GMO's are bad!

Their garden looks beautiful!


We've banned this account for posting unsubstantive comments and ignoring our requests to stop.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13908239 and marked it off-topic.

The housing code was there before she was. The Me generation is alive and well.

Please don't do generational flamewars on HN. If you have a substantive point to make (e.g. about respecting tradition), please do so thoughtfully; if not, please don't comment until you do.

> I was afraid of what people would think, because Americans have been deeply conditioned to see their manicured lawns as status symbols.

I don't think insulting people who mow their lawns helps get her point across. I mow my lawn for obvious reasons: I like the way it looks, I like my neighbors, I don't like rats or hornet nests, etc. She'd be better served by trying to persuade me to reexamine the values that lead to not wanting big honking rats in my yard but she lost that chance when she implied I'm a zapped cow.

Is that really an insult? Or is the truth just kind of embarrassing? People have a deep, psychological fixation on monocultures, IMO, one that is not well developed or backed up by anything other than the power politics of our day.

I'd like to see some evidence that an unmowed lawn leads directly to nuisance levels of hornets and "big honking rats". It sounds like your real concern is that you want your neighbors to conform, and you're looking for justification after the fact.

I saw it as giving some reasons that people like maintained yards. Not sure that warrants a downvote. Maybe he exaggerated a bit about the rat size.

Are you arguing that obeying laws is conforming, and conforming is bad? Or that the law is so obviously flawed that nobody should conform to it?

He didn't argue anything, he asked for evidence to support a claim, which is totally reasonable, unlike your reply.

It isn't that all cultural? Why have a lawn at all? Why not just go native or whatever else? I was looking around Melbourne, a town with a lot of detached houses, and didn't find many lawns (and no, they also had no rats because they didn't have grass). Maybe it really is an aspect of American culture? Not an insulting point, just a realistic one.

East of the Mississippi, "going native" quickly results in a thick, impassable jungle that will eventually tear down your house.

Most people outside of serious lawn perfectionists do nothing other than simply mow their lawn once every week or two. I assume the fashion for perfectly green lawns in California deserts came from an imitation of the environment back east.

There aren't many green lawns in California desert though, too expensive to maintain! Lawns definitely aren't a "social requirement".

I guess Kudzu in Mississippi could be a problem,

Just because someone takes offense at a statement, doesn't make that statement an insult. I'm sure that Richard Nixon despised being called a liar, doesn't mean that he wasn't a liar or that it was an insult. Sometimes an observation hurts, and that should impel you to examine yourself, not lash out.

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