It’s not uncommon: that one house in the neighborhood that has all sorts of things strewn across the lawn, from flamingos to Toyotas. The neighbors hate the eyesore, the owners are oblivious that they’re causing a commotion and visitors to the area use it as a landmark for getting around unfamiliar streets.
But where does this need to turn our yards into a landfill come from? There are many different opinions, but one thing most people agree upon is that our ancestral necessity as hunter-gatherers has left us coded to keep whatever is available, and in a world where hundreds of CDs and DVDs can be bought with a single click of a mouse, it’s not surprising that now more than ever people are having trouble with clutter. In some cases, collecting can actually be a healthy way to manage stress and can serve as a fun hobby. However, it can quickly go sour if that hobby becomes an obsession or even a compulsion.
Yards are an interesting case when it comes to untidiness because it’s not just a personal environment that is being affected, but the neighbors’ and all other members’ of the community that regularly witness the yard. This being said, not all yards that are viewed as cluttered are ruled by the same mindset of owners or even have the same sort of stuff lingering in the lawn.
A common mistake many people make is landscaping with good intention but failing to execute a clean lawn. Whether it is nick-knacks like statues and gnomes, or the kids’ bikes and toys, too many things in a yard can make it appear busy. A good rule of thumb to remember is that lawns should be more green than anything else, so if you’re starting to notice stone overwhelming the landscape, it might be time to put a few things in the shed. Take a Saturday to organize the lawn and the garage, and you’ll be amazed by the result.
Not everyone has such good intentions with their lawns, however. In many cases, trash and used goods will litter a person’s territory because, for them, it’s both easier and cheaper than trying to get large garbage to the dump. This is more common in an environment with low community standards; if the surrounding area has low visual expectations, it is unlikely anyone will be enforcing clean lawn regulations. In situations like this, it is up to the individual to maintain pride in their habitation and make their home a place they love to live in, which starts with respecting the property.
Sometimes, however, the mess on the lawn was not intentional, but result of an actual disorder called hoarding, which happens when people are unable to discard things of little to no value. This can be caused from an array of different triggers, from a feeling of isolation to financial stress. Some cases can get so extravagant that the clutter can affect the health and livelihood of the hoarder. To the outsider, it looks like a sea of rubble, but to the sufferer, it’s all things they can’t imagine living without.
So, with so many reasons causing messy and unsightly yards, what can the innocent bystander do when they feel their neighborhood appeal is being hindered? In many neighborhoods, including Emmer Communities, the Home Owner’s Association does regular observations of curb appeal and will make requests to those breaking standard HOA guidelines. If you feel like your HOA hasn’t done enough to change the view from your window, they’re a good place to start the ball rolling. In some cases, it may take your local city council’s involvement to get a good conversation going about an issue like this.
The best thing you can do, though, is talk to your neighbors. Be kind and reach out to find out what’s really going on; you may be surprised what the actual culprit is causing all the clutter. A concerned hand can do wonders for a community problem and, really, isn’t it the beauty of the neighborhood that’s at stake in the end?
Do you have a story about an overwhelming yard or property? Tell us about it in the comments below!