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Alabama Woman May be arrested for front yard garden

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

Her yard isn't pretty enough:

From the Birmingham News:

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Too bad they didn't include a photo of the yard.
I can actually understand both sides of this issue. I have seen edible front yard landscapes that were designed to fit into the general style of the neighborhood and I have seen some that were an eyesore that detracted from the neighborhood and were detrimental to property values. Sounds like the Vickers family did try to make the front yard vegie garden decorative and attactive. It's too bad the city and/or neighbors weren't able to meet and agree on a garden design. I wonder if she lives in a community with CC&Rs that requires lawn in the front yard.

Olympia, WA(Zone 7b)

Here's the link with a photo:


Peoria, IL

Gardeners have constitutional private property rights to grow certain plants on their property. The courts in other states have already ruled that municipalities can regulate plants that are specifically listed as noxious weeds, but ordinances that regulate an entire landscape simply on the basis of height or appearance are unconstitutional.

I do hope that that Ms. Vickers is familiar with the precedents set in other courts and can use that information to keep her garden.

Schroon Lake, NY(Zone 4a)

SO sad....the garden looks good to me. DO you know how ecologically destructive lawns are? Even if they weren't sprayed with poisons, which everything in my neighborhood is, lawns are a constant war with nature.

SO here's a woman who plants food and thats.....ugly? (OMG they should outlaw those inflatable "lawn ornaments" that are all over!!)

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

joepyeweed, constitutional property rights vary from state to state, county to county.
There have been many court cases over landscaping in California where the courts have upheld the HOA's right to replace the changed landscaping in the front yard. Most homes built in this state in the last 25 years have been Common Interest Develpments. I looked at a new development near Olympia, WA last summer and discovered that the homeowner was allowed to have what ever container plants they wanted, but all other plants in the front, side and backyards were maintained by the HOA. The homeowner had no say in what lawn & garden products were used. Needless to say, my friends elected not to buy in that development.

Buyers sign that they have received a copy of the CC&Rs as part of closing, which makes them aware of what is allowed or not. In the case of the Vickers, their house looks older, so I would guess that they probably do not fall under a HOA.

Marshall, MO(Zone 5b)

Its her property, PERIOD. If it aint weeds, trash, junk or obscene it shouldn't be any ones business. Exception would be a covenant with a homeowners association.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

I am familiar with the neighborhood. It is an older (circa 1920's) Birmingham suburb, with no Homeowners' Association. As far as I know you can have a pink flamingo or inflatable Santa snowglobe.

surfside beach, SC(Zone 8b)

This is outrageous!

Why not try to post it on www.gardenrant.com.?
It would get alot of publicity and maybe help this family.

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

I tried the newspaper link, but though I found the article, they apparently didn't archive the picture (or I'm not savvy enough to have found it). As with everything, there are two sides to any argument. I'm in a neighborhood that loosely regulates what you can plant -- and pushing that envelope as far as I can, by the way -- but in the back yard, I figure that's just plain MINE. There's a privacy fence, and as long as I'm not growing anything illegal, you know? I do wish the woman well, of course.

Let it be a warning to everyone who's thinking of buying a home -- check ALL regulations that could apply -- deed restrictions, neighborhood policies, etc. It would be so horrible to have NO control over your yard! I guess that's for non-gardeners.

Central, AL(Zone 8a)

They removed the link with photo that johnsonjrbm posted and put a generic news page in its place. Anyway on TV they did show her yard and it looked like a big patch of leaf- mulched spinach and kale and herbs. They also had pictures on the local TV news coverage of what her yard had looked like with photos of "junk" planters and clutter that she had since removed and now it was just garden plants.

This lady owns an organic gardening store; I have never been in but now that I know about it I will have to visit. It's on the web, too:

Peoria, IL

Certain private property rights are federal and do not vary state to state. Each state can pass specific laws with respect to private property, however they cannot contradict federal law.

However HOA covenants are a totally different situation. By purchasing property that has an HOA, landowners essentially agree to limit their rights and be bound by those covenants. If a person doesn't like what is in the HOA convenants, they do not have to buy property there. HOA's generally are responsible for enforcing their own convenants and nothing like that was mentioned in the article.

Centennial, CO(Zone 5b)

There's another reason to suspect that there is no HOA in this circumstance -- the city would have to deal directly with the HOA board instead of the individual homeowner. The assessment of fees for "fixing" her yard would also have to be assessed against the HOA, since the HOA covenant would ensure that the HOA board is responsible for maintaining the appearance of the property (either by regulations or by actual landscaping maintenance)

Merrimac, WI(Zone 4b)

Another article: http://www.flashpointblog.com/2006/12/15/homewood-garden-gestapo/

Amy Vickers is the Membership Vice President of the Alabama Environmental Council: http://www.aeconline.ws/aec's%20board%20of%20directors.htm

Southern Mountains, GA(Zone 6b)

This is ridiculous, imo. Thank God I live in an unzoned area. Keep your rules off me and my property. America is supposed to stand for freedom. It seems like it would be better if folks just MYOB and if they don't like something, let it go, ignore it.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

I feel for the poor women! Let it live, let it grow!
I have had my quarrels with my neighbours too; I live in a "grass is cool" street, and did the opposite in my front yard. I have fruit trees planted, but maintain them beautifully (If I have to say so myself!)
My next door neighbours put up a fence all along the property, all the way to the side walk. Their excuse was "the bricks around my flowerbeds are too dangerous for the kids" I didn't think they needed an excuse, but they made me one.
Their renewed front yard got MORE bricks than mine, with steep brick stairs without railings, and yes, one of the kids already bumped his head hard falling down!
Some of my neighbours have told me they aren't happy "with my plantings", because "I changed the feeling of the street"
I thought fruit trees is a cool thing for growing children; just pick the fruit and eat it, warm from the sun, juicy, fresh, and, above all, organic.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

Thumbnail by mrs_colla
Central, AL(Zone 8a)

I love your little oasis, mrs_colla!

Southern Mountains, GA(Zone 6b)

Great yard!

Peoria, IL

Mrs. Colla - your yard is awesome. I think the front yard speaks volumes about a person. It takes a strong personality, unique in character to step away from the peer pressure of turf and grow something that is way more interesting.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

thank you joepyweed, roseone33 and passiflora_pink!
I never get any compliments, and it fells GOOD!
Wait until spring comes, I can't wait to see if we will have any fruit! I have 31 fruit trees!
You all made my day!!!

Thumbnail by mrs_colla
Merrimac, WI(Zone 4b)

"the bricks around my flowerbeds are too dangerous for the kids"

Their kids shouldn't be in your yard.

Some of my neighbours have told me they aren't happy "with my plantings", because "I changed the feeling of the street"

Changed the feeling, or make them feel like they should improve theirs?!!! ;-)

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You did change the feeling of the street...but I'd have to say you improved it and gave it life! I have a feeling you just made them feel bad that they hadn't spent the time on their front yards and you make them look bad! I just got rid of all the grass in my front yard too, no complaints from the neighbors though because the yard looked truly awful when I bought the house so anything would have been an improvement, plus there are other houses on my street that don't have grass so people are used to the look.

San Diego, CA

Mrs Colla..Shannon here. I love your yard. It's very inviting and full of life! Good on you for not giving in. I totally think people need to stay out of other's yards.

I have a tiny little cement porch area that I have stuffed full of a variety of plants and veggies. The people next door once mentioned that it was too cluttered and I basically told them to go take a hike....unless they want to pay my $3000 a month mortgage. It's too bad we couldn't afford a huge house so that it wouldn't look so crowded but we have to make due with what we can.

I think they'll appreciate it once spring is upon us and the Jasmines, Brugs, Lilies, Tulips, dwarf meyer Lemons and pink lemonades start to bloom and the scent is sweet and lucious. Then they'll see what all the hard work was for.

Franklin, NC(Zone 6b)

Hmmm... I dunno. All that greenery and terra cotta colors sort of clash with the dingy beige and grays of the rest of the neighbohood. ;-)

Kannapolis, NC(Zone 7b)

My HOA actually has in it - no vegetable gardens in the front yard... LOL!! Luckily most of my property is in the back!!! Beautiful yard Mrs Colla! Imagine! Flowers beds dangerous for the children! HA HAHA!! I'm going to giggle about that all day!!


Marysville, WA(Zone 7a)

Unfortunately it seems the only way to protect yourself from the local bureaucrats is if you can afford to buy a good lawyer. That is a mighty pretty yard mrs_colla. Must be a delightfully fragrant place to sit on a summers eve. 'Police powers' are pretty scary ,except maybe to criminals.

Marin, CA(Zone 9b)

Thank you for your encouraging words!
Yeah, I'm sure my neighbours checked the by-laws up one end and down another! Luckily, they haven't found anything illegal-yet !

Plain Dealing, LA

Years ago, before I bought my present property way out in the country, I rented a house in a "yard nazi" neighborhood. Within 1 week of moving in, I was rudely awakened by my next door neighbor edging my driveway at 6:30 AM Saturday morning! When I ventured outside to ask "what the heck" he advised me of the "correct way to keep the yard up in his neighborhood"?!?!?! His stringent instructions took almost 30 minutes to explain. He absolutely objected to using a weedeater to edge because they just didn't leave the right effect; and didn't like the color of the hydrangeas at my front window........there was no reasoning with this man. I sympathize with anyone unfortunate enough to live in close proximity to a "yard nazi". I now live about 40 minutes outside the city in a lovely country area where all my neighbors believe in live and let live. Some have gardens in their front yards, some in their back yards. I adore all the diversity of plants and yard designs. I have created a 3 acre organic orchard and garden that feeds my soul, my family and friends (and occasionally the area wildlife). Everyone loves to come visit for the peace and quiet, and all the garden goodies. Funny, I haven't once missed the yard nazi who used to be my neighbor...and I think my yard now is so much nicer than the small cubicle of perfectly manicured worthless grass that I once had back in that neighborhood...perhaps what the world really needs is more "gardening rebels" and less cookie cutter lawns

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

hear, hear!

Merrimac, WI(Zone 4b)

perfectly manicured worthless grass that I once

I would never have followed the neighborhood. I have a friend who is trying to restore her yard to prairie; the neighbor keeps mowing five feet or more into her yard.

Mchenry, IL(Zone 5a)

mrs-colla, hi from illinois! i love your yard.!!! when i moved to my home 10 years ago, the neighbors thought i was nuts because i didnt put grass in. i have huge pine trees(75ft) and the builder already warned me that it would be impossible to grow grass. i have a beautiful shade garden with over 100 hostas, lungwort,porcelin berryvines, toad lillies, sweet woodriff, ferns, lilly of the valley, wild ginger, and too many more to list. some of my neighbors like it, others dont. i LOVE it. it is so much prettier and more interesting than grass. it is suprising how many people comment on how much work it is. Its actually easier than a lawn!.now that my kids are grown i am working on taking out the grass in back. happy gardening to all. and along with freedom of speech ... freedom of gardening.. !!!

Berkeley, CA(Zone 9b)

> Some of my neighbours have told me they aren't happy "with my plantings", because "I changed the feeling of the street"

Wow. People in *Marin* complained about an edible landscape? Tell 'em to move to somewhere more conservative. Sheesh.

Your yard looks great!

Personally, in my neighborhood I'd be happy to see anyone putting attention into gardening and landscaping their front yard. Even if I weren't into edibles, an edible landscape in front has got to be better than litter, crabgrass, and dirt....which is the norm for half the yards...

Kannapolis, NC(Zone 7b)

Oh this thread makes me remember a funny!! I do not live in a yard nazi neighborhood but... There is a piece of property right beside ours - it's about as wide as a 2 lane road-actually it was supposed to BE a road but that's a different story. My husband maintains it just b/c it connects our yard to the neighbors and it looks so much better to keep the grass looking good. So we realized this year we were running low on fertilizer so he took a WIDE berth when putting fertilizer on that part. The result? It has stripes!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!! It is SO FUNNY LOOKING!!!!!!!

The good part though is the owner recently offered to let us purchase half and our neighbor half. He can't sell the land behind us so won't be needing the road. So no road for us!! WOOT!! :) And our part is the striped part! giggle..


Peoria, IL

Nicole, your post reminds me of a funny story from my childhood. My dad was getting peer pressure from the neighbors to "green" up his yard. So he fertilized a swath of the yard in a pattern that spelled out our last name. You could distinctly see our name in huge letters in the dark green pattern on the lawn from the street. :-)

Kannapolis, NC(Zone 7b)

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Peoria, IL

As a teen ager, I was utterly embarrassed, but looking back now, it is very funny. My Dad was such a rebel. ;-)

Merrimac, WI(Zone 4b)

I love that story! ☺

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

When we moved to our place on a little under an acre, I knew I could have a garden, front or back, but I wasn't sure about chickens. We're in a small village. I called the county about this, and they said, "Let's see.... yes, you can have them, but no more than 100, and only one cow." I was laughing so hard. Okay, maybe it was only funny to me, but that many chickens and a cow on this land would be grounds for anyone to complain. And I can't stand neighborhood oversight. I grew up in a development in which my parents were "reported" to the HOA for changing the color of their front door. Yikes!

Joepyeweed, that's a great story. Good for your dad!

Kannapolis, NC(Zone 7b)

Zeppy, I think that's funny too! Did you ask how many pigs? LOL!!!


Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Seriously, I think two are allowed. :)

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