Possible Elitist Snob Alert (*updated)

I live in a middle-to-upper-middle-class neighborhood. The yards are generally extremely well-kept, landscaped, and beautified with annuals and perennials of every hue each spring and summer. Even though most of the lawns are the size of postage stamps, many of my neighbors hire a service to do the mowing and upkeep for them.

Incidentally, this description doesn't describe my own yard. We lean more toward the middle class than the upper-middle class end of the equation. And this middle-class girl doesn't garden. At all. I am the proud owner of two black thumbs.

That said, we do our best to keep our lawn mowed, neat, and dandelion-free. We've never sprayed it with pesticides because Isabella plays on it all day long, and even before she was born, I had real issues with the environmental impact of spraying chemicals. So this means my own yard is not without the occasional weed. It is not one of the better-looking yards on my street.

And yet my lawn looks like it's taken care of by Martha Stewart's yard boy compared to this neighborhood eyesore, unfortunately located directly across the street from my house.

This neighbor's yard is the talk of the 'hood. The photo, taken from my front steps, doesn't even paint the full picture of just how overrun with weeds and shin-high grass this yard really is. Yesterday morning, as my aunt was leaving my house after a visit with Isabella, a woman approached her and asked if she knew if the house was for sale. Evidently she thought it was empty and that no one was home to take care of the yard. My aunt said she didn't live in my house, but that she had seen kids outside playing so she didn't think it was for sale. The woman then told her that she had knocked on the door to inquire if it was for sale and had peered in the windows. Apparently, there are cans and trash all over the floor of the house.

Part of me wants to extend sympathy toward this family. They have five children with another on the way. Perhaps they're overwhelmed. Perhaps a family member is sick (although I've seen both adults and all the kids playing in the yard, amongst the 7-foot tall weeds). Perhaps their lawn mower is broken.

But the other part of me is sick of seeing this disgusting lawn every single time I look out my front windows or play with Isabella on our front lawn. This part of me wants to tell them to mow their damn lawn, already.

What would you do? Would you call the town and report the neighbor? My town's code (yes, I looked it up) says that it "requires that all properties are kept free of accumulations of brush, shrubs, weeds, grass, stumps, roots, excessive and noxious growths, garbage, refuse and debris."

Or would you ignore it and hope the weeds don't grow across the street and entangle your daughter like the Venus Fly Trap in Little Shop of Horrors?


A few things I should clarify about this neighbor. His yard is a perpetual problem. They moved in last year and while they had hired a service to care for the lawn then, they came infrequently. So this isn't a one-shot deal. I have a feeling that when and if he does mow his lawn, it probably won't happen again for months.

Last night around 5pm, the skies parted, the angels sang, and the dude trotted out to mow his lawn. He began mowing the lawn between the street and the sidewalk first when I would have started on the front lawn itself, but whatever. I was just happy he was doing it. Until the mower began breaking down every five minutes. Why, you ask? Because the 8-foot tall weeds were getting stuck in the blades. He dragged this out for another 20 minutes or so, stopping and starting every few minutes. And then he gave up. The grass between the street and the sidewalk is mowed, and that's it. As a friend told me, a herd of goats might be a more appropriate solution to the problem at this point.

19 Responses to “Possible Elitist Snob Alert (*updated)”

  1. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    Honestly? I would have Ian march his hiney over there and ask if they need someone to mow their lawn for them. If they do have five kids and one on the way, there's no question that they are overwhelmed.

    Our direct neighbors (with whom we share a driveway) have one child and work different shifts from each other. They are all rarely home at the same time. Their yard often looks like your neighbor's, and it doesn't help that the front alone is about 1/2 acre in size. It's a lot to mow when you have little free time. Ian will occasionally hop on his riding lawn mower and get it done for them.

    We have a feeling the inside of their house is pretty run down, too. In the six years we've lived here, we've never once been invited inside. They often have debris lying around outside, and it's been WAY worse than the house across the street from you.

    Slowly but surely, though, they're getting it all cleaned up.

    I guess it depends on how well you know your neighbors, but I might offer to help. If anything, it'll make them realized that they neighbors are concerned with how their house looks in the neighborhood. Maybe they'll take the hint.  

  2. # Blogger Jesser

    Ahhh... that's my house. Well not literally, but in comparison to the 150+ other manicured lawns (as dictated by the HOA), that's about it right now. Sightly overgrown, many dandelions. :P We're going to get ourselves kicked out of pleasantville soon.

    Hopefully they get their act together. Otherwise, I say start with a nice anonymous note.  

  3. # Blogger Mom24

    I guess it depends on if it's like this ALL THE TIME. If yes, I think I would make the call to the city. Maybe they need a friendly kick in the pants. If it's just been this year, or if occasionally it gets away from them for a stretch but they also have long stretches of taking care of it, then I'd probably just let it go and thank my stars I can deal with my life in a better way.

    Good luck. BTW--we have the EXACT yard down our street, go figure! It really looks like crap, but at least I don't have to look at it all the time.  

  4. # Blogger Tracey

    That's MY HOUSE!! Well, except we have thistles growing. Yes. Prickly bushes that get realllly tall and eventually get pretty purple flowers that will reseed themselves all over again. Nice, eh?

    We finally called a lawn service this year. My feeble attempts at pulling and spraying individually was like trying to catch a bucket of sand in a strainer.

    Miraculously, the weeds are dying!!  

  5. # Blogger M

    I have ZERO tolerance for this kind of stuff. It's yards like these that drive down home values. Because really, who wants to live near something like that and have to look at it every day? It doesn't have curb appeal. I would call the town....I've emailed our HOA about neighbors before.  

  6. # Blogger Riley & Tiki

    This happened to our yard when I was a kid. My dad was working in another city for a while, our riding mower was broken, and we couldn't use the push mower (none of us were tall enough to yank the push mower to start it-Mom is short & my brother and I were kids). The neighbor on one side of us started mowing the front yard. The other neighbor started mowing the back yard (they both had riding mowers so it was pretty quick work). We were very grateful. The neighbors didn't want compensation, but my dad has "paid it forward" and now mows the "old" lady's yard next door at their new house.

    R&T Mom  

  7. # Blogger Chas

    Calling the town will likely do nothing. When I was a kid there was a house on my street that was just ridiculous. I really can't explain it in words...let's just say that we later found out that the people didn't have electricity, and that for YEARS they were running an extension cord from the wife's parents' house next door to run a few electric items. Anyway, my mother called our town many, many times about the state of their front yard, b/c we were trying to sell our house, and you had to pass theirs to get to ours. They never got it completely taken care of before we moved.

    If it were me, I'd send them a very polite anonymous note telling them to mow their grass, and maybe somehow throw in that you really don't want to have to contact the town. I thought about doing this last year when a family in my neighborhood didn't take their Christmas lights down ALL YEAR. Luckily, they took them down the day after Christmas last year.

    Good luck!  

  8. # Blogger Editorgirl

    I would call the town "out of concern" espcecially if they have children and there is trash strewn about the house as well. Just do it anonymously so you don't have to deal with neighbor anomosity.  

  9. # Blogger beagle

    Tough call. Turning them in will either offend or piss them off.

    Offering to help sounds like a nice middle ground but I would find that awkward too.

    What about taking a neiborhood collection and hire a service for one time and give it as a congratualtions on your new baby gift. Is that too goofy? It might be nice for them and also give them the big hint that that people are noticing the mess.

    Now I'm curious what you'll decide.

    We've had two incidences in our neighborhood and both times it led ackwardness. The first guy was mad and the second time the homeowner was really hurt/offended by the complaint.  

  10. # Anonymous Jenny

    I have noticed this yard this summer but did it get like that last year? I don't remember...
    There are some good suggestions in the other comments. If it was me I'd probably wait it out - see if they catch up.
    If they normally keep up but are overwhelmed now I'd probably offer to help too.  

  11. # Blogger Shannon

    I would write a note saying I know you have a lot of kids and that you might need a friend or some help... please let me know... kind of a note... and maybe one day when you see them all leave mow their lawn and see what happens... or leave the note with a flower pot (nothing fancy) by their front door... maybe they will get the idea...  

  12. # Blogger Thalia

    this must be an american thing...I think it looks quite nice! If it's dirty that's another matter.  

  13. # Blogger sher

    People often leave anonymous notes here. I got one once, not about our front yard, but when one of our water pipes had a small leak and water was on the sidewalk. We were trying to fix it and someone left the note. I was pissed because we were trying to fix it--and did. A friend of mine had an anonymous note left about her lawn. :):)

    You know, if it keeps getting worse, someone may have to send them that note and ask them nicely to clean up the yard. I bet the squirrels love it........  

  14. # Anonymous Marie

    Is this how it usually is? How long have they been there?

    It's hard when you don't know them, because you don't know what's up (other than that they probably are overwhelmed & just trying to keep up with so many mouths to feed, etc).

    I might call on a persistent eyesore, but if it's just an occasional thing I wouldn't.  

  15. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Hmmm... Not being a lawn person myself, this would not bother me. But since you are, you might want to jokingly mention it to them if you see them.

    BTW, it was GREAT to meet you in person yesterday. I only wish that you lived closer!  

  16. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    That's so crazy! I actually read something in a magazine article once about a family who went so long between mowings that the neighbors would actually get frustrated and mow the lawn for them.
    Our lawn is fairly weed-ridden, but we do mow.  

  17. # Blogger sher

    Goats! I like that idea! They work too.  

  18. # Anonymous Laura McIntyre

    Gosh i do understand it would really annoy me, mind you i have never had a garden i have had to take care off so cannot honestly comment.

    Hopefully there house really is better inside than out, some people just never seem to get a place clean  

  19. # Blogger Damselfly

    Hee hee, every once in a while, our backyard gets like that when my husband gets too busy to mow. But the front usually looks decent. Like you, I don't like spraying chemicals on the lawn, though.

    However, my husband mowed the lawn of our next-door neighbor for two years. The couple went through a divorce, then vacated the house, the Mrs. Neighbor moved back in by herself. This was during the same time I was pregnant, Fly was born, we had a new baby, etc. And finally just a couple months ago I told my husband to please stop mowing her yard because it took time away from Fly and me. So I guess you could offer to help a neighbor ... but not for two years!  

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