Thursday, August 7, 2014


The neighborhood I live in has mostly two acre lots where the houses sit near the front of the lot close to the street. This creates a big backyard and a smaller front yard. There is variability in how the lots are used, but most have some kind of landscaping around the house with the rest being trees and fields. And while our neighbor's yard is somewhat typical of this, it has been interesting to watch it evolve over the years.

From this aerial photo, you can see the spirals in cut into the yard.
When we first moved in, the husband and wife had already decided that the front yard was hers and the backyard was his to do what they each wanted. She was a member of the garden club and had nice flowers around, and he was a member of the natural-look club and had a lot of unmowed areas around. Interestingly, amongst all of the tall grass, he had mowed a spiral pattern in the back which he used as his walking path. With his tall grass, he said that he was trying to create more wildlife habitats. I don't know if this was his real motivation or if he didn't like mowing, but whatever it was, he created a great place for the kids in the neighborhood to play. The spiral maze, along with a huge mulberry tree with branches bending to the ground, made their backyard a favorite place for Wally and Theo and other kids to run, hide, and have great adventures. Luckily, the neighbors were okay with this.

As time went on, the back was not mowed as often, and I noticed that an area in the front was not being mowed either. That was because the husband had decided that he liked to watch the tall grass sway in the wind as he looked out his front window. The wife, wanting to keep things neater, would go out and surreptitiously pull some of this grass, hoping that this new area would not become overgrown like the back. It went along this way for a couple of years until she gave up and decided to enjoy the tall, swaying grass also.

The wildflowers in the front yard.
Health problems and kids moving away from home cut back on their mowing even more. The back gradually lost its circles and the tall, grassy patch in the front became bigger. Eventually, the back became filled with brush and was unused. (Except for the time one of the now grown up neighborhood kids used it to grow marijuana. That was an interesting time with helicopters and Federal agents.) Now the husband had truly created a wonderful habitat for animals, but the wife had less area to showcase her flowers in the front.

However, this year I think they finally came to a compromise that suited both of them. The wife has planted wildflowers in the front yard in the tall grassy area, and the husband now has a yard that is certified as part of Maryland's Wild Acres for wildlife.  From my perspective as a neighbor, I think they have come up to the perfect solution to their differing styles. I am really enjoying the bright blooms of the wildflowers, and I am also enjoying the wildlife that spills over into my yard from their happy homes in the husband's backyard.

Sometimes it takes a while, but there is usually a compromise to be found in all situations. My neighbor's yard is a friendly reminder of that for me.


  1. That is interesting. I wish my attitude had been as good as yours a few years back when my neighbor decided to not cut her yard for over a year. By mid-July there were waist high weeds all over her back yard. I suppose it was a sort of like a wildlife sanctuary but the only spillover wildlife we got was snakes. Finally another neighbor complained and the city required her to mow the lawn. I guess she had the last laugh though. She hired a gardener and now has one of the best looking yards in the neighborhood.

    1. I think it helped that their yard was a couple over from mine and I really liked the couple.

    2. It also helps if there is more distance between the houses. In your neighborhood, a wildlife area wouldn't look out of place. In my neck of suburbia, it just looks awful. We had a similar problem to Anne last summer--our then-neighbors were separated, the husband was living elsewhere, and nothing got done with the yard. It wasn't mowed for months, the German Shepherd they had continued to use the back yard to go to the bathroom, and you couldn't even see through the weeds to clean it up, so not only was it unsightly, it smelled. Both owners have now moved out and it is being rented to people who are taking good care of it. We aren't fussy about yards--keep it mowed and keep the fridge off the front porch and we're happy with you as neighbors--but last summer's experience was unpleasant, to say the least.

    3. I generally try to be positive, but if I'm totally honest, we have a few yards in the neighborhood I wish were in better shape especially if we ever try to sell our house some day. But having a big yard myself, I do understand how much time it takes just to do the mowing, let alone the landscaping and weeding.


What do you think?