Happy Monday or It Should Be

Grass Police

I was out early today watering the garden, preparing for the 90 degree forecast of bright sun. Starting the day right.

Like my little sunflower is conveying, I had a somewhat scrunched up, surprised look on my face because a passerby made a comment about my new front landscaping. And I did not have the time to spare for a lively discussion about the merits of grass.

For the past week, I have been planting perennials in my tiny front bed. All week, about thirty or so neighbors or visitors walked or drove by, stopped and complimented the front planting, oohing and ahhing of what it will become.

They have remarked on my color selection of blues, lavender, whites and pale pinks as well. I have been painstakingly nurturing these perennials all summer, until the beds were prepared and the perennials could be installed.

Well, what does the woman say, but, “Don’t you think you made a mistake by removing the grass and planting weedy plants, they are surely going to attract rats to the neighborhood?” She said this so sweetly, in her squeaky little voice.

I almost said, “Excuse me you insensitive, unknowing,  little…”, but I refrained.

There is pincushion flower, Delphinium, Shasta Daisy, Veronica, and Asters in the front bed. WEEDS?

Granted, few were in flower until recently after the shock of being planted and suffering 90 degree temps for weeks.

They are all planted rather structured for now. If she thinks this is weedy wait until the third year. She will have a petition out and no longer harping sweetly. And I don’t even have a grass-free yard.

This lady reminds me of a neighbor, no longer with us and I mean that in the literal way (and no she was not assassinated), who would run the neighborhood like a military encampment. If she was displeased with something a neighbor did to their property, everyone else would hear of it.  She would report on anyone who committed even the slightest infraction to those in charge, police or inspections department, whichever got the most action.

And this concerned lady today alleged I will bring RATS? If I could get rid of the feral cats I would be happy. My Nepeta Walker’s Low had to go, because cats could not ignore it.

She lamented the fact that I was reducing the amount of grass in the front yard and asked me if I might be in violation of an ordinance by the reduction of green space. She apparently does not know how to interpret the ordinance, because green space does not only mean grass.

Thinking, “who made you the grass police and wayward weed inspector” I explained how I am trying to eliminate mowing as much as I can. Not even touching on the green aspect of the issue. My other goal is the reduction of annuals.

These are the same perennials that she admired in my beautiful backyard garden during garden walk that she was now calling WEEDS because of their relocation to the front yard. She expressed that my yard will always have a weedy look because the plants I selected will not be in flower all season. I explained, through proper dead heading and maintenance practice, I picked perennials known to re-bloom or continue to bloom. For gosh sakes, I have five trees planted on my 5000 square foot lot alone and if you count the 14, nine-foot Emerald Green arborvitae as trees, I have 19. I have green space galore, just not much grass.


Grass is a touchy subject for many. Home owners, especially men, are proud of their emerald-green, weed free lawns. This woman acted as if I was committing grassicide by removing the sod. She felt I was in conflict with my neighbors by having more than half my property landscaped in plants other than grass. To each his own.

This morning I was in a fairly good mood until this lady had to interject her unfounded wisdom. Why is it people think they need to tell others what to do with their property just because they have a minute knowledge of ordinances and a holy admiration of grass. Armed with this information, they go around policing other neighborhoods.

I gave her a little of my own wisdom and off she went. Happy once again. Or at least until I spot her with a weed whacker and rat traps.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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21 Responses to Happy Monday or It Should Be

  1. Wow. She must have a BORING yard.
    I think your new plantings sound great. What variety you will have and butterflies, not to mention less maintenance.

  2. Larry says:

    Good morning! It stikes me that you may already have a “rat” in the neighborhood!! L

    • Cute reply. This lady is really not so bad, just awfully nosy and thinks she knows all. What she thinks comes right out without so much as a replay in the brain. She lives on another street, which just happens to not be included in our Historic Preservation Designation. My guess is she wants to keep us in line.

  3. Anna B says:

    You might give her a lesson on the nutritional value of rats and ask her to your next cookout 😉 I think what you are doing is wonderful!

    • I guess rats do have some nutritional value, but no matter how tasty, I am not about to partake. But it is a fun thought, none the less. When I see her walking my way, I am going to try to find and display a rat in the front yard, right below the delphinium. Those stupid feral cat find them and leave the carcasses all about. Two so far. City living has it’s downfall.

  4. This make me even happier I live in the country and we don’t have sidewalks. She would probably have heart failure if she saw my huge veggie garden in the front yard! ~GJ

    • No doubt. Veggies can look a little worn at this time of year. I know my poor heirloom tomato does a bit. I have another story about this same woman and what she thought I should do to my office space. I will post that as well.

  5. Mary says:

    It is a shame people can’t mind their own buisness. I say when they start paying my taxes they can tell me what to do with my property! This neighbor would love my house, I have no grass at all in the front or back yard including the board walk between the side walk and the street. I did call the city before I did anything to find out what our laws were and they were fine with flowers in the front. I do keep it tidy though and not bring down other peoples houses. So far all I’ve gotten are positive comments from people but maybe the ones who don’t like it just aren’t saying anything! What suprised me was how many people jumped on the bandwagon and started front gardens after we did ours. It is neat to see the grass leaving and flower gardens taking over. We are also regestered with the National Wildlfe Federation’s back yard habitat program. Good luck with your neighbor and please don’t let her bring you down. Your house and yard are beautiful!

    • You are doing a wonderful thing. The registration is also a great honor. I hope you got a plaque. It was good you checked with the city. Some localities do not allow plantings in the hell strip and others disallow the large perennial plantings. I feel the same way about the hell strip as a place to replace grass. Once you pioneer a space or new design, different from the mediocrity of the neighborhood, you get others to follow suit. My next spot (and only spot left) to plant is the hell strip. I wanted to explore the pros and cons, then get up enough courage to dig up the area. My post is here.

  6. Artie says:

    What the!?!? Who in their right mind would even think to say such a thing?? Has she looked around the neighborhood? Many of the perennials you’re planting I have in the back and Geri has at the head of the street – if rats were attracted, we would already have a problem. Stupid people just annoy me. LOL! As I was reading though, I thought – hmmm, who could this be? I was even going to get up and go see who had meatball shrubs planted too close to the house – but then you said she lived on a different street. Now – I have my guess …. but til’ I can get over to look at the shrubs … I suppose I’ll never know! te he he! Sorry for the wreck to your am watering – but it was a well written and entertaining post.

  7. Artie says:

    Oh, and PS, if it’s who I think it is … on that street … I would think that they’ve got much more rat attracting trash to clean up.

    • You probably got the right house. This woman always seems to be bothering me with some type of advice or complaint. I am sure because she looked around our neighborhood is the reason for the remark. But, you know, some people just love grass and replacing it in this manner really bugs them. She is correct on one thing, my yard is vastly different than a lot of others, but that is what makes a street interesting, I think. If everybody is the same, you got those neighborhoods of conformity and mediocrity. City living, by it’s very nature, is diverse.

  8. Gardens attract rats? What now? huh? – Does not compute! (squirrels, maybe…) Kudos to you for creating a front yard wildlife habit for birds, butterflies and bees out of the wasteland of a sterile lawn. As for Nosy Parker being a gardener, I don’t believe her heart’s in it. (your comment about her meatball shubbery was the tip-off.)

    • Hey, blogs are supposed to be civil, so I know my meatball comment was a bit uncalled for. I do have to give her a little credit on that because it is rare in our area to have people actually maintain their yards, and she does keep her annuals tidy. But you know, when you do this for a living and some some busy body comes along to offer advice or suggestion, it hits home a bit. I know she probably meant well in some regard. She feared I would be non-complient with the city for instance.

  9. Mary Ellen says:

    Interesting post-didn’t know we had a such a critic amongst us!!!!

  10. Ivette Soler says:

    You are AWESOME for doing what you are doing! It is great that you are joining the army of those minimizing lawn and planting beauty instead! There will ALWAYS be haters, don’t worry about them. When I first committed “Grassicide” 15 years ago, I actually had a neighbor shoot the finger at me from a passing car! Now, my front yard is one of the parts of my garden that makes me the happiest.
    Your garden looks beautiful! Keep it up, and know that YOU are in the right, not your neighbor. Lots of people can’t think beyond lawn, but once more people do what you are doing, they’ll learn that there are other ways for front yards to look. CONGRATS!

    • Thanks for the kind words. I can not believe a neighbor gave you the finger. That would be a good post. Fifteen years? I bet you converted a few homeowners in that time. At least my critic had some good intent. She was trying to get me to see the error of my ways. I was just joking that she would be back with the weed whacker and rat traps. But, then again…

  11. Well, this critic is not really among us. She happens up our street now and then. I have known her for a long time, maybe even before you moved here.

  12. Hoo-boy, what an unhappy person she must be. I think your plants are lovely, and if I lived in town, I would dig up a lot of my grass for beautiful beds. Here, the grass lawn is maintained without chemicals, and it looks pretty good but more and more flowers edge their way in. It makes me happy.~~Dee

    • Dee, that is how my garden develops also. Start out thinking this may be it, then little by little grass starts disappearing. Same in my backyard. Not much left there either. Having a large property allows this passion to explode. I am almost lucky not to have a large lot. I would never get any work done. LOL.

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