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Is this a thing now?

Update: One of our readers pointed out that we should have mentioned fire codes. Indeed, the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District is concerned about weed abatement as a means of fire risk reduction and has a hotline (916-859-4327) and an email address ( to report problems.  Metro Fire says:

Weed abatement on residential property, less than one-half acre in size may be done by mowing or weed eating. Weeds shall be no more than one (1) inch in height after cutting. All cuttings shall be removed.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire district,

Does it seem to you that there are many houses with, shall we say, "unkempt" yards? It sure seems like it has become common to see tall weeds in the front yards of houses, weeds growing in the streets and into sidewalks, and weeds in front of businesses and in vacant lots. It's one thing to have a cottage garden or "meadow landscaping" and another to just have a place that brings down the property values for everyone else.

No, we are not yard shaming. Our community has always had shut-in seniors, hard-working parents with precious little time and/or money to spend on high-quality front yards, and out-of-area property owners who rarely lay eyeballs on their property. With this post, we are not asking anyone to emulate Martha Stewart's landscaping tastes, nor are we suggesting that everyone should have immaculate front lawns. But whatever happened to the notion of basic tidiness that has characterized our community in the past? If you have 1/2 an acre or more in the foothills that's suited to a rural lifestyle, OK (except for potential wildfire problems, that is). But is a densely-packed urban environment like we have here conducive to that?

Tall weeds in the front yard are part of why the County has a code enforcement program. Your property is not supposed to be a haven for vermin, nor is it supposed to infringe on the property rights of nearby property owners. Of course, we all know that "County code enforcement" is a contradiction in terms and that actual enforcement is only a reality for privileged neighborhoods. The County either doesn't have the resources for, or just doesn't pay attention to, the vast majority of our lowly, unincorporated neighborhoods. As for the weeds growing in the cracks and potholes of our streets and overtaking what sidewalks there might be, well...let's not hold our breath. So what can be done instead?

At a minimum, at least try to talk to your neighbors.  If you have neighbors who don't have the resources and/or strength to occasionally use a weed-eater or a mower, could you maybe think about helping them spruce up their front yards a bit? If you own rental property or have a business site, could you consider including a monthly mow-blow-go contract in your operations? It really won't hurt your revenue stream, but it can do wonders for the value of your property. Remember: owning property doesn't mean you have no obligations to the community.


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