Grass(roots) Tyranny Update! (*)

(First post here.) A temporary stay of execution has been granted. I will meet with the code inspector on Monday morning to talk about what he wants me to do. This morning, before he called, I hewed the elderberries in front down to 3 feet or less to remove the “sight obstruction” objection. The shrubs look pretty sad and spindly now. If the complainer’s goal was to force me to make my garden accord more with his or her tastes, I fear the effort has been in vain.

the first casualties

On the other side of the garden is a warehouse with a small parking lot. From the driveway and parking lot of that property, there is clearly no obstructed view of the street or the sidewalk, where it crosses paths with places where automobiles go.

great wall of switchgrass

The obstructed view complaint is rather silly, in my view, but at least it has some public safety justification. Anyone who has been to Vancouver, British Columbia has seen the streets lined with enormous, dense, Stavanger, Norway: Where the streets are lined with the bodies of the slain.evergreen hedges. It seems appropriate for local governments to set their own standards in gray areas such as these. As I mentioned in the first post, I will comply with any reasonable request to keep the vegetation low near my driveway. Whether or not this case is resolved amicably depends on what kinds of demands the inspector makes. The letter of the ordinance requires that the “ingress and egress” of a private driveway should have clear views of the sidewalk and street. Fine. That’s what cutting the elderberries accomplished. But I don’t think that I should have to cut the entire perimeter of the garden to a stubbly three feet or, worse, ten inches; there’s no public safety justification for that.

(*) Props to Grover Cleveland for the witticism.

5 thoughts on “Grass(roots) Tyranny Update! (*)

  1. Thanks, Heather. Wild Ones is a great organization. I had come across that page of resources before, but it’s good to get a refresher.

  2. don’t worry about the elderberries, they’ll come back fine. A hard prune always looks terrible, but it is possible to improve the structure this way. Next season you might want to cut back even further in order to maintain the required height. That way, you’ll only have to do a little biannual clipping. You still get many of the benefits from natives even if you have to manipulate them.

  3. skr – Yes, good point; in fact, my plan was to do a hard prune of the elderberries (all the way to the ground) every other fall… But it’s ideal to do it after they go dormant. Oh well, at least it’s better than having to do it in mid-summer!

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