Lawns are dumb. Arresting people for poor lawn care is dumber

In 2008, Joe Prudente, a 66-year-old man from Hudson, Fla., turned himself into the Pasco County jail wearing a “Grandpa Gone Wild” T-shirt. His crime? Failing to properly maintain his lawn.

Joe wasn’t a deadbeat who hated mowing or even an environmentalist who refused to water on principle — he was just a guy whose grass kept dying, even after he had it re-sodded three times, even after he hired professionals to do it for him. But, no matter. Joe’s grass would not grow, and when his homeowners association complained to local authorities, Joe was threatened with arrest. That’s when he turned himself in.

Joe was held without bail. It wasn’t money the court wanted — it was a new lawn.

Of course, re-sodding for the fourth time would have been difficult to accomplish from a county jail cell, but when the local paper did a story on the arrest of a 66-year-old man on lawn-care violations, dozens of people showed up to his house to rip out the old lawn and lay down a new one. Joe was released the next day.

The latest episode of the podcast 99% Invisible tells the story of Joe Prudente, and of other lawn violators. There was a man from Grand Prairie, Texas, who spent two days in jail for not mowing, and there was the warrant issued for a woman from Riesel, Texas, who was unable to care for her own yard. She was 75. There’s also the Ohio couple we wrote about a few weeks ago, who were threatened with a forcible mowing if they didn’t take care of their property.

Read more here.