Despite a few last-gasp heatwaves across parts of the country, fall is here. That means apples, hayrides, bonfires, and all of those other Instagram-worthy exploits.
If you’re a homeowner, though, it also means another round of lawn maintenance is in order before the snow starts to fall. That means (more) mowing, raking leaves, and bagging, mulching, or burning yard waste.
But before you do these things, stop and make sure you’re familiar with your local town’s lawn maintenance laws. What you don’t know could cost you.
Is Your Lack of Lawn Care a ‘Nuisance’?
For one Ohio couple, their desire to have a more natural yard that invited native plants and insects to flourish ran afoul of their local township’s nuisance laws. Lawn nuisance laws have drawn the ire of property rights activists for years, because they can be quite vague.
In the above couple’s case, Ohio and their local law does not define what categorizes a “nuisance.” In their case, their refusal to mow was cause for a violation. City officials threatened to bring law enforcement to the couple’s home to allow someone to cut the grass.
In another head-scratcher, a Tennessee woman received jail time for failing to mow her lawn and failing to pay the related citation.
Don’t Just Burn Those Leaves! Or, Do?
Many of us remember our parents throwing piles of sticks and leaves into barrels and watching the yard waste go up in smoke every fall. But if you paid attention, you may have noticed that they only did that on certain days or used certain barrels.
Much like yard maintenance, states and towns have burning laws meant to protect public safety. New York state, for example, allows residents of towns with populations of less than 20,000 people to burn sticks less than eight feet in length and six inches in diameter. Also, you better not do it from March 16 through May 14. Chances are, the place where you live is also particular about your burning habits.
While it’s fine to shake your head at what you feel is an unnecessary intrusion into what happens on your property, citations and fines are no laughing matter. You have the option to contest them in court, of course, but ignoring them will not make the matter go away. Fines can stack up, and local governments can be quite aggressive in ensuring compliance.
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