to mow or not to mow

We live on alittle more than an acre, with most of the land behind the house. We keep the grass cut and trim around the front and a good portion in the back. Our neighbors on both sides keep their entire lots cleared. There are no trees in this back field, no horses, no barns or sheds, just flat land. Our neighbors want us to cut our back field because they say it is drawing crickets and mice, I suspect they just think it looks unkempt. We like having a meadow out there. There are rabbits and wild flowers and a tree just may take root. I say when the fields are cut the crickets and mice head to our houses. One neighbor told me last night, “I guess I better cut your back for you”, and I said no. Do I have an ecological leg to stand on here? Give me ammo to shoot 'em down. P.S. This is rural unincorporated properties. And, yes, I did post “how to kill grass?”, but that’s around a small garden.

tell you neighbours to get stuffed. If you want long grass you can have long grass mate. In fact pop down the local pet shop and buy some mice and rats, maybe some ferrets and stuff, and then deliberatley set them free in your garden, in full view of all your got-nothing-better-to-do-neighbours.


I don’t know how it is where you live but here the ticket for not mowing the grass here is $50

Sailor- We’re in an unincorporated rural area. You can put livestock on your acre if you want. Don’t think we can get a ticket for not mowing! In an urban area, yes.

We mow simply out of safety…next time though, get somethng called a Meadow in a Can. Its a bunch of great flower seeds. Thne youll have a beautiful flowering meadow & you can say not to cut it.

Have to cut it here its a $100 fine if you don’t.

Hi Handy. What do you mean you mow for safety? Is a meadow somehow dangerous? If it is, let me know. This is why I posted the question. If I am living out in the country, the law isn’t requiring me to mow, what is the harm? I say it gives a home to critters and they tend to stay out away from the house. They have to cross a wide open space to get to the house. And it adds interest to an otherwise flat vista.

Well, I just got off the phone with the Travis County Agricultural Extension (actually a federal agent working out of their office), and she said “Sure, you’ll attract rodents if you don’t mow!” Wild land will attract wildlife like a mowed field won’t. Apparently, rodent control is one of the main reasons that cities mow around drainiage ditches and the like.

Now that I think about it, I moved an old truck from a field in Oklahoma to a pasture outside of Austin. It had rats nesting in it up there, and it has them down here. It might have had them if it was kept in a well-mown field, but it wasn’t and they were there in both places, FWIW.

Since you’re in Texas, I’d suggest that you contact your county ag extension for more information. These folks get their info from TAMU, along with what they learn in the field, and they give good unbiased information (ie, they don’t have a political interest in environmentalism and they don’t work for a pesticide company.) Besides, you already paid for them with your tax dollars.

Hmm… you live on the Texas plains and want a meadow. I wonder if you could get into the CRP, or at least get free seed from them, and somehow pull an ag exemption…

I personally would worry about ticks if they aren’t uncommon in your area. Some of them can carry Lyme disease, and none of them are pleasant. But, on the other hand, a meadow is nice and pretty. If you’re willing to be careful to keep an eye out for various pests and it isn’t adjacent to your house, you have a little bit of standard lawn between you, I doubt it’s a serious problem. Then again, if I get a lawn I want to plant it with dandelions, they are prettier and more useful than grass, but I bet my neighbors would hate me.

tamster, safety is it protects against fires.
You’d need a field mower though. But more fun to pay some kids to do it & watch them slave in the hot weather.

Well, having a field can actually be helpful. When wild animals have native plants to chew upon, they’re much less likely to eat your garden veggies or landscaping. The landscaping company I work for has about 15 acres of land filled with various plant stock and I have never in four years seen any signs of animal damage despite having seen enough rabbits to fill a semi. Why? Because we’re surrounded by a great deal of native fields. Likewise, someone I work with sees rabbits in his yard all the time, yet they choose to feed from the wild strip he keeps at the end of the lot, leaving his expensive shrubs and flowers alone. Native areas can become havens for various species of animals that are either desirable (butterflies, song birds, cute little mammals) as well as potentially holding endangered species as well.

My advice is to call your local “town hall” (or township or county or whatever applies to your residental area) and ask what sort of permission you need to keep a native area in your yard. Call local wildlife or gardening type clubs. Tell your neighbor that you will call the police and have him arrested for tresspassing if he comes near your yard with a mower. If all else fails, get a spotted owl and put it in your yard, then get a large amount of government funding to protect it :wink:

Well since it is July and it is Texas and we are not going to get any more rain until October (Just in time for the State Fair), you might as well just brush hog the area to make your neighbors happy. Then this fall gather the following ingredients. Peat moss, clay, and a big bag of wild flower seeds. Mix two parts clay, one part peat moss, and roll it into balls the size of quarters to half dollars. Roll the balls in the wild flower seeds and make sure the seeds get inside the balls and not just on the surface. If you just spread the seeds the birds will be happy, but you won’t get many flowers next spring. Prepare the area by raking or drag a old piece of chain link fence to break up the old grass sod.
Gather up the neighborhood kids and have them throw the seed/clay balls all over the area in question. Next spring you’ll have a beautiful area of wildflowers. Then next summer about this time, after the rain has stopped and the flowers have dropped their seeds, brush hog again. You should be good to go, but you might want to repeat for one or two years.

Just an idea …

Around here we have snakes. When ever I let the grass grow the snakes come. They don’t seem to like mowed grass.
You don’t have snakes in Texas do you?

There are times that I will let an area go to seed.When the grass is spotty.

I like the seed ball idea.

Next time your neighbors give you crap just stare at them with a horrified look on your face and say, “WHAT!!! WILDLIFE??? In the COUNTRY??? You’re kidding, right? What the hell is wildlife doing in the country? Geez, I might as well move into town and have a lawn!!!”

Maybe that will shut them up.

Thanks everyone for your input. It’s really helped. Eventually, we will have horses or donkeys back there and we plan to plant many, many tree staplings from tamu when they are available. In the meantime, we may try the wildflower bit. We’ve been considering it anyway. FYI: Fire hazzard doesn’t seem likely, field is way out back, no houses close. Haven’t seen a snake in the year and 1/2 we’ve been there. Ticks are pretty much a dog thing in our area. Thanks again!

I would say: Fuck your neighbors. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to tell you what to do with your own private property. If they don’t like it, they can move…

As to towns and cities that pass laws require you to mow your property: Fuck them too. They don’t own it. Now, if you rent or lease your property (ala condo-style ownership) then the association (as owners) can force you to mow, but if you own your land outright, no individual or agency, private or government, has teh right to tell you what to do. They can take a flying fuck.


I agree with you in principle, but in practice, the law has landed pretty firmly on the side of the town.

You would probably see the point differently if your neighbor decided he wanted to paint graffiti all over his house and start dumping trash on his unmowed lawn. It’s his house, right?

How about if he starts a skunk farm in his back yard? That should be fine?

Town and city governments are given many responsibilities, and one of them is to maintain property values in the town, and the courts have allowed them to pass laws requiring things such as mowed lawns.

BTW, I get most of this information from a NY Times article about how the author tried to put a tasteful swingset/playground for a child in her backyard and the neighbors tried to get her to remove it.

The upshot is, yes, the town can’t force you to mow a lawn, but they can levy fines and put a lein on your house.


Tamster, I loathe the culture of rapid growing grass. My back yard was a weed lot for a while, much to teh chagrin of my neighbors. However, we got a ton of mice in there and they came into the house every winter. I used a two prong solution:

  1. put up a privacy fence

  2. I planted a mixture of buffalo and blue gramma grass. These are both prairie grasses and they don’t need any water. The gramma is green in the summer and has to be mowed once or twice, then it goes dormant and doesn’t have to be cut again. TEH buffalo comes up a little later. It is still green, but does not grow tall. The mixture gives great ground cover and requires no water (I have cactus in my yard and still haven’t watered the grass) and you only have to mow it twice a year.

I would say that this would be a good compromise. I have to side with the neighbors on teh rodent issue.

BTW, I don’t even use a lawnmower. I use a weed eater.

Dig some little trenches across the meadow, and let the weeds and grasses grow over them. Then let your buttinsky neighbor drive his mower into your little ‘tank trap’. Then have him arrested for trespass.

** bpaulsen **:

Yes, the town CAN do a lot of things. I CAN kill another person in the sense that I have the physical ability to do so. But that doesn’t make it right. And no, I don’t care WHAT my neighbor does to his property, I do NOT want the town to intervene. Just because the town does do these unreasonable things does NOT mean they have the RIGHT to do so.

“Calling it your job boss don’t make it right”

jayron 32, bpaulsen,
FWIW, it sounds like the land is in an unincorporated area and not part of a housing development. If so, then the only laws that apply are Texas state law. There’s no town to control it and no homeowners association. Texas counties are just administrative units of the state and there’s no town to write laws, so if the well and septic tank comply with state requirements, they’re pretty much free to do as they want. Nice, isn’t it?