How To Encourage Reluctant Neighbors To Mow Their Lawns

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.


Here’s a Yard of the Month winner from March of last year:

Kirkwood South March 2006 Yard of the Month, 10614 Sagevale

And April:

Kirkwood South April 2006 Yard of the Month, 11107 Sageriver Ct

And now, an excerpt from “The Easy Way To Maintain Your Lawn,” by Joe Provey, featured on the Kirkwood South Community website:

The amount of time and money you spend maintaining your lawn depends a lot on what your idea of a lawn should be – not necessarily what your lawn actually needs. Early lawns of the Middle Ages did not require much maintenance. That’s because they were inspired by glades or grassy openings in the forest (not pictures in magazines or golf courses). These lawns were meadow-like mixtures of grasses and flowers that were planted amongst fruit trees, vines, flowers and herbs and enclosed by fences or courtyards. There was no mowing. Grass was kept from growing too tall by trampling it into a soft, woven mat-like surface. If you too can adjust your expectations to taller grass, a mix of other plants in your turf, such as clover, and midsummer periods when your grass temporarily turns brown, you can achieve a low-maintenance lawn – and one that’s closer to the original spirit of the lawn.

According to the Chronicle, Ballew was let out of jail Tuesday after she agreed to get her back yard in shape within 30 days.