A Better Sense of Place

2014 September 5 (Fri)

Neighbor interaction #2

In the mail today — yes, the literal, physical, paper mail — I received a letter. It was written by my neighbor and is "Re: Landscape Concerns". I will include the key parts of it here:

I have been asked by several of the neighboring homeowners to open a dialogue with you regarding the landscape style of your yard. While I certainly respect your rights as a property owner to make certain choices with regard to your landscaping, I, along with neighbors, have become concerned that the choices you are making regarding the weeds and haphazard landscaping style, is having a negative impact on not only your property value, but the value of homes around you. Accordingly, I respectfully request that you re-consider your landscaping style (at least as it applies to the front yard and side right-of-ways) and adopt a more neat and manicured approach.

I have attached a copy of the EBR Parish ordinances regarding yard and weed standards. I am hopeful that you are open to working with you neighbors on this. Other neighbors are considering taking this matter directly to the City Parish for enforcement. However, I did not support that effort without having the opportunity to speak to you about it first.

He then included a print out of much of Title 12 Chapter 5 of the city-parish ordinances. Section 12:351 has wording that dictates that "grass and weeds do not reach a height of more than twelve (12) inches and allowed to remain in such condition for more than two (2) weeks". But I know that further on in Section 12:405, it says it is a violation if "Grass or weeds are allowed to reach a height of more than twelve (12) inches over the majority of the immovable property and allowed to remain in such condition for more than two (2) weeks." That is correct: one says "majority" and the other does not.

And there's also the problem that the municipal code does not define anywhere what a "weed" is. Grass is pretty well understood as it is a botanical term, but weed "has no botanical significance". I know what he's referencing: it's the asters I have allowed to grow in the front yard and mowed around for the fall flowering. Bees love them. My plan calls for their removal in the winter as their growth habit does not fit into my plan and I have other flowers that will eventually take over their role.

I will mow the front this weekend (with my new reel mower!), and I will attempt to talk to the neighbor to explain things more clearly. Other plans include continuing to hoe grass in the front yard and removing dead grass rhizomes. I planted a sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) out there already this past Sunday, and I think it's really digging the full sun.


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