10/22/13 10:10am

MAYOR PARKER ENCOURAGES NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS INTO LAWN MOWING BUSINESS It’s worked for parents — why not the city? A new program will pay civic groups and nonprofit organizations $75 a pop to keep up overgrown lots abandoned by property owners in their neighborhoods. Mayor Parker announced the so-called Mow-Down Initiative yesterday in the Third Ward. How’s it gonna work? First, the city will come in with tractors and run over the big stuff, and then residents will take over, KUHF reports: “[Mayor Parker] says 100 lots around Houston will be included in the program to start, and she expects the city will save thousands of dollars in maintenance costs by engaging civic groups instead of hiring contractors.” Another nonprofit, Keep Houston Beautiful, says it will provide lawnmowers, trimmers, and other equipment for the work, free of charge. [KUHF] Photo of lot in East End: Allyn West

09/30/13 4:30pm

WHOSE IS THE UGLIEST YARD OF ALL? The DIY Network is looking for some telegenic eyesores to feature in its groundskeeping soap opera, Desperate Landscapes. Know any? Unfortunately, the call for entries for yards that star contractor Jason Cameron spends 2 frantic days trying to make a bit more presentable doesn’t appear to be a chance for you to get revenge and tattle on your neighbors: To be on the show you’ve got to denigrate — er, nominate your own yard. [Jay TV] Photo of yard on 2000 block of Rainbow Dr.: Allyn West

09/02/11 2:36pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THINKS HIS POOP DON’T STINK “That’s weird. [pot-bellied pig] poop doesn’t really smell much (not like a hog farm, where the hogs are fed to bursting). It’s kinda similar to rabbit or deer (remember these are prey animals). Wilbur may be overfed? Or not eating proper PBP food, which is like rabbit food pellets – alfalfa + protein mix. We rake the poo up & put on the compost pile or mix it directly into the garden soil. It does not burn the grass. Or attract flies, really. Maybe the neighbor is smelling something else? An 8-month-old PBP will produce about 20 little balls of poop a day on the proper diet. Sorry if this is TMI, but I feel I owe it to Wilbur to produce some facts from a long-time responsible pig owner. I can smell our neighbor’s dog’s poop next door – and the wandering cat’s – but the pigs’ is not nasty at all. I was kind of worried when we got our first one that it would be a problem, but it is not. And our neighbors will tell you that too.” [Flake, commenting on Spring Potbellied Pig Dispute Hits the Courts] Photo: Wilbur Sardo

08/30/11 12:20pm

Drought has turned land that used to be part of Lake Houston into a jungle of 14-ft.-tall snake-infested weeds. Waterfront residents of Kings River Village, near the northern end of the lake in Humble, would like to knock down the vegetation that’s sprung up as the lake has receded, and that now surrounds their newly dry backyard docks. But some are proceeding with caution because they don’t own the newfound land and are wary of legal and ecological issues that might result from clear-cutting the newly exposed wetlands. “Right now, we are just in a situation where our kids can’t go back anywhere near the lake because of the weeds and the snakes that are back there,” Clear Sky Dr. resident David Labbe tells the Lake Houston Observer. “We’ve seen an abundance of snakes. We don’t know what rights we have, as homeowners, to go out there and try to remedy the situation.” Labbe has contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, the San Jacinto River Authority, and Houston officials, but hasn’t received an answer yet.

Photo: Stephen Thomas/Lake Houston Observer

07/21/09 2:21pm

Reader Jeromy Murphy sends in this photo he took this morning along the banks of Buffalo Bayou, from the jogging path in Buffalo Bayou Park under I-45. What’s going on over there across the water?

While walking back to my office from a downtown meeting, I noticed workers installing new sod along the Bayou.  I wonder how long this will last considering the weather report?  Anyone along the ship channel need some new sod?  It’s probably headed their way.

What’s wrong with a little sod freshening?


01/29/09 2:51pm

Been worried that those neighbors of yours have been ruining the delicate balance of petroleum-based fertilizers in their grass with slow oil leaks?

Help is on the way! City Council has passed an amendment to Houston’s parking ordinance that will allow neighborhoods to apply individually for local 20-year bans on front-yard parking.

Signatures of 60 percent of a neighborhood’s residents are required to enact a ban, and restrictions can be appealed. But Intermodality blogger Christof Spieler, who’s been following lawn-parking-ban efforts for some time, notes neighborhoods that don’t have fussy deed restrictions already in place might want to think twice before signing up:

This new version also allows for the use of permeable paving. But it does not address the other problem: ultimately, this is an incentive to pave more. If your neighborhood opts in, you won’t be able to park on your front lawn. But, unless there’s a specific deed restriction in place against it, you’ll be able to pave your front lawn and the park there.

Photo: Flickr user herbinhouston

08/18/08 1:26pm

Baling Hay at Bush Intercontinental Airport

The Houston Airport System has found its first customer for some of those bales of hay you’ve seen lining roads leading to IAH. The hay-harvesting project began as a pilot using contractors 2 years ago, but airport employees are now doing the work.

Of the 10,000 acres that comprise IAH, 250 acres are presently being used to harvest hay and 50 of the 2,500 acres at EFD are being used.

Right now most of the hay is a low grade Bermuda grass mainly used to feed livestock such as cattle. . . .

When the hay project is finally in full swing some 2,000 acres of land at IAH and EFD will be used to grow hay, providing a projected revenue source of roughly $4 million dollars a year. Cutting and baling at the airports this year will continue until the fall.

500 round bales at IAH and 400 square ones at Ellington Field are currently available.

Photo: Houston Airport System

01/02/08 12:02pm

Front Lawn of 10926 Leaning Ash Ln. in Ashwood, Houston

This three-bedroom, three-bath, 3,504-square-foot home on a half-acre lot in Memorial is notable for three reasons: The asking price was dropped to just below $650,000 only a few days after it went on the market, shortly before Christmas; it sits on a street whose name Susan Vreeland-Wendt probably wouldn’t approve of (foundation problems and fires generally aren’t the kinds of connotations you look for these days); and its main MLS listing photo features a remarkably bad Photoshop hack job.

What is it that’s been covered over on that front lawn with a hundred rubber-stamp-tool grass plugs? Is it just that the real sod isn’t taking underneath all those pine trees? Or is this a photo from heavy trash day? After the jump: more (presumably undoctored) photos of the house on Leaning Ash Lane.


06/06/07 11:10am

Kirkwood South April 2006 Yard of the Month, 10526 Sagecanyon

What do you do when you’ve got one of those pesky neighbors who just won’t take care of her overgrown back yard?

“We’ve had nutria rats — the ones that look like beavers — caught in the trap in my backyard. . . . I have had run-ins with large snakes. My dog has been sprayed by a skunk. … My children are not allowed to walk the property unless I go out there first.

“Anytime you try to entertain with friends, you have to explain why there is a jungle next door creeping through the fence. … It’s just the craziest thing.”

Sounds bad. But here’s a suggestion: Do you have any sway with the neighborhood homeowners’ association? Are you, say, its president? Well, then, why don’t you just have the reluctant gardener next door put in jail until she agrees to take care of the problem?

The Kirkmont Association first sued Ballew and won a permanent injunction against her in 2004, requiring her to mow her entire lawn twice a month and trim her trees and shrubs once a year. Ballew failed to appear in court at that time to respond to the lawsuit, which resulted in a default judgment.

But little has changed since then, Carroll said. Only the front yard has been mowed.

During a follow-up hearing in April 2006, Ballew was found to be in contempt of court for failing to comply with the injunction. She was sentenced to three days in jail, but that sentence was suspended for four months to give her time to do the required yard work, homeowners association attorney Michael Treece said.

She was ordered to return to Davidson’s court for a compliance hearing in August but failed to appear.

Davidson issued an order for Ballew’s arrest last fall. She was taken into custody Friday. The judge told Ballew he sought her arrest “very reluctantly.”

After the jump, the advice mowing scofflaw Linda Ballew took too far: tips for a healthy but shaggy lawn from the Kirkwood South website. Plus, more Kirkwood South yards of the month.