Monday, September 03, 2007

Yard Art or Trash

In case you missed the lead article in the Post Dispatch on Labor Day, here’s a summary about subdivision residents with some unusual tastes in decorating their front and back yards.

Battles over landscape decor can land property owners in court and cost thousands.

A 62-year-old retiree cleared some trees a few years back from the sliver of sloping land outside his Chesterfield home then he install two putting greens that were more than 30 feet long. He built a little creek and a gazebo.

And since nothing spells tropical golf getaway quite like a beach, he brought in about 50 tons of beach sand. The scene really came together once he got the portable golf hitting cage and a bar with pergola roof.

But his neighbors said he crossed the line with the four artificial palm trees — exclamation points standing 8 to 12 feet high that screamed "tacky" to the subdivision trustees. A former trustee gave it a nickname - "Wally World."

Thus began another costly legal battle over landscape decorum. To a few people with eccentric palettes, a lawn is a canvas, and the results can vex city officials and homeowners associations for years.

Two months ago, a group of Ballwin residents begged their Board of Aldermen to do something about a retired art teacher who lives off Morena Court. He constructed clusters of colorful, twisted metal and wooden spikes on his front lawn, and hung silver bowls from the trees.

Greenberg says the project is intended to commemorate the Holocaust. The city cited the homeowner under a littering ordinance, said David Howard, the homeowner’s attorney. "It's going to be extremely expensive, the route they've chosen." Howard argued that under the law, the art is no different from a resident who puts up Christmas lights, a birdbath or a rosebush trellis, adding that the city wants his art removed merely because it offends people.

If landscaping is a form of self-expression, it's difficult to tell what message the shimmering rock garden in front of the home on Ashby Road is trying to convey. Giant slabs of granite line the sidewalk. Faux flowers make their way up a metal trellis, surrounded by pieces of quartz. Well, at least they don't have to cut the grass.

Still, some of their neighbors don't share her post-apocalyptic views or appreciate how she puts them on display. "It's Sanford and Son," said Linda Badgley, who lives across the street. "I'm sure it does a lot for our property values." Years ago, in addition to the rocks, Carl and Carol decorated their yard with a collection of hubcaps.

But that was too much for the county, which persuaded a judge to order the couple to remove the hubcaps.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:52 PM

    We had one resident plant live palm trees in the front yard in the summer. In the winter, they were fake, lighted trees. At other times, he had up to 15 lighted torches burning in his front yard along with a load of sand.

    While neighbors complained, nothing was ever done about it. Tacky? Yes, definitely.