Clean Up Your Lawn!

A Farmhouse

A Farmhouse. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

The California Civil Code, Section 1929 and 1941 precludes hoarding unwelcome junk on lawns1. The mandate holds renters and landlords accountable by providing a legal baseline for sanitary living arrangements.  In California’s Central Valley—particularly rural farming areas—this convention is culturally problematic.

Stacks of junk are tradition, a distinctive trait of the area. They are as readily familiar as the locale’s cherished farmhouses. The accumulated clutter around the farmhouses is saved for later utility use, organized by an individual’s sensibility towards collection and composition. Shipping pallets, hay bundles, firewood, cedar mulch: these are considered improper by code, villainized as garbage; however, garden gnomes, lawn jockeys, flocked flamingos, and synthetic Halloween spider webs are a practice tolerated as welcome expressions of authored yards.

To people enthusiastic about stuff, junk adds value to a lawn.  There is more to look at, the saturation of which is personally enjoyable.  It is gratifying to gaze at six hay bundles—stacked two by two on top of each other—leaning against a house’s board-and-batten siding. One of the hay bundles is propped up by the 18-inch on-center white picket fence that surrounds the stack, protecting it from livestock. At the base of the stack is a collection of handmade flower planters, ranging in diameter.  An assemblage of collectable figurines is stuck between the two bowed plywood sheets pitched against the stack. Beside this pile is another pile, consisting of shipping pallets and is equally as exciting.

Junk1

A pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

There is enough curatorial effort in the compositions that the emphasis does not harbor on the farmhouse, solely. Instead, it flickers between the assortment of items surrounding it: the adjacent pile of shipping pallets, the surrounding picket fence, the detached shed, the house, then back to the shipping pallets.  It is difficult to define where the farmhouse stops, and the pile starts—or how the California Civil Code delineates collections of splendor from heaps of debris; who’s to say this junk is better than that junk?

Junk2

Another pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Besides, physical clutter on the lawn is more attuned to our contemporary practices. Whether we admit it or not, we like junk, and collecting it is so in right now.  We collect knickknacks, keepsakes, mementos, souvenirs. We collect followers, views, likes, pokes. We collect scale figures, DWG blocks, red markers, chipboard.  Though valued differently, our stockpiling habits aren’t too different from the accrued configurations on Central-Valley lawns.  

As it is, the distinction between junk and farmhouse is negligible. We should sincerely consider the things typically cast off as background stuff. There is always an opportunity to find value marred in convention, no matter how mundane the subject matter.  This is not a personal plea to give up on the adored farmhouse, but do not clean up your lawn, just yet.

Junk3

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk3A

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk3B

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk1A

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk1B

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk2A

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

Junk2B

Some other pile of junk. Image courtesy of Dylan Krueger.

  1. The full code can be accessed on California’s made-easily .gov platform, leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml