Many cities have ordinances that allow them to impose fines if residents fail to maintain their property correctly. In some cases, this includes the ability to impose fines if a resident doesn’t mow their lawn properly.
Most of the time, residents who received citations pay their fines, grab the mower, and get things back into shape.
But in a few rare cases, cities have actually sent residents to jail for failing to mow their lawns.
Hard Time for an Unmowed Lawn
In Texas, authorities in Grand Prarie sent a local man, Rick Yoes, to jail for failing to maintain his lawn. Yoes reportedly received over 32 visits from city officials and was offered help to clear his lawn.
When that failed, the city fined Yoe. He accumulated enough fines (over $1,700 worth) that the city ended up jailing him. Yoe reportedly had to take vacation days off from work in order to serve his time.
Yoe is not the first person to serve hard time for failing to mow their lawn properly. In 2014, a Tennessee woman was given a five-day jail sentence for failing to maintain her lawn.
Her sentence was eventually reduced to just six hours in jail, but the judge in her case threatened to impose more jail time if she didn’t stick to a program of regular lawn maintenance after her release.
Many people bristle at the idea that their city can tell them how to maintain their own property, especially when they perceive any issues to be aesthetic rather than safety-related. The idea of going to jail for failing to mow your lawn is likely something most landowners haven’t thought about.
Lawns and Public Safety
Codes related to lawn maintenance usually focus on the safety risks of a poorly-maintained property. These include the risk of rodents, snakes, and other pests living in tall grass. In places prone to wildfires, high grass can also increase fire risks.
The issue is compounded by the fact that mowing an unruly lawn takes time. If the grass becomes too high, mowing it back all at once can kill the grass. Getting back into compliance can thus take a lot more work than keeping a yard maintained in the first place.
Jailtime for lawn-related issues is rare, but as these two cases show, it does happen. Maybe best to budget a couple of hours this weekend to make sure your own lawn is in tip-top shape.