Freedoms extend to the front yard, but be courteous

Published 1:59 am Sunday, November 11, 2012

Every so often things slowed down this past civic duty Tuesday for those of us working the polls. I used some of the rare down time trying to mentally make connections between politics and plants. The cynic in me came up with loco weed, voodoo lily and zigzag plant.

Just kidding, of course.

A more positive approach is to remind us our freedoms and rights extend to our own property, including yards and gardens. Outside of dope, there are very few plants against the law to grow. I don’t know if it is still illegal to intentionally grow water hyacinth, but it used to be. I never heard of anyone jailed over it. But our government of the people spends tax dollars fighting non-native, invasive water hyacinth in waterways, so I reckon it is constitutional to outlaw it all together.

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In your yard, you are generally free to treat or mistreat your own plants as you choose. Personally, I am awaiting permission from the retina doc to hop on the mower for an overdue final fall cut. If I want to, which I don’t, I could drop the mower blade down to an extra low scalp to make sure the grass is done for the year. But just because we can do something plant-wise does not mean we should.

The idea of making the last mowing lower than the rest of the season can come back to haunt the lawn and its owner. Not often, but sometimes, we get a really hard freeze really early and the scalped grass will get hurt by it worse than grass left at normal height. If you look at it from the grass’s point of view, it never wants to be mowed anyway.

Every mowing is a slight physical stress on grass plants. But in warm, long-day weather, grass recovers from the stress quickly and goes about its business growing. The later in fall we mow the longer the recovery time to healthy, cold-weatherproof grass. Essentially, my grass is about out of recovery time. But I still don’t want any lawn laws on the books.

Now, if it were up to me, there would be a couple of plant laws for us homeowners. And these are actually good neighbor suggestions. There are already regulations for residential areas to preserve peace and quiet, health and property value. I merely want to add two more for those who live up close to one another. That excludes me of course.

My second most meaningful suggested statute would be to forbid planting straight line red top photinias within four feet of the property line. If the next-door neighbors want red tops, they can plant their own. But don’t force them to host yours.

My No. 1 pledge, if ever elected, is to outlaw, within the confines of typical residential subdivisions, the planting of giant bamboo. Again, it is in line with the Golden Rule to not mess over your neighbors with plants you can’t make stay home.

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, 601-636-7679 ext. 3.