To some people, the front yard at Eastside activist Don Young’s house looks like an overgrown bunch of weeds badly in need of a lawnmower. But to Young and his wife, Debora, their yard looks just as it was intended – filled with the tall, native prairie grasses that once covered this part of North Texas.

For five years, the Youngs have been cultivating native grasses in their lawn. A neighbor who didn’t appreciate the effort called the city to complain – the lawn didn’t meet a city code prohibiting grass over 12 inches. This summer, the city wrote a citation to the Youngs, who in turn contested it (they are awaiting a court date). Don Young wants the city to rewrite its ordinance and make exceptions for native grasses such as side oats gramma, the state grass of Texas that typically grows to about 20 inches. The Youngs have gramma in their front yard, along with bluestem, switch grass, and several other varieties. The grass attracts birds and butterflies, but can also be tall, brown, and … well … different. The neighbor who complained has a St. Augustine yard that requires plenty of water to stay green and alive.

“Conservation is a big part of this,” Young said. “I don’t have to water my front yard at all, and it looks gorgeous to me. It’s been so long since people have seen real prairies that they don’t appreciate it. They appreciate a standard green lawn.”

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He recently had his yard certified as an urban “wildlife habitat” through the National Wildlife Federation, something he plans to bring up in court. “We’ve gotten rid of everything that’s not a native species,” he said.

With our state’s water supply dwindling from population growth, development, and weather changes, maybe the city ought to start rewarding people who cultivate drought-resistant landscaping, and writing tickets to property owners with lush green St. Augustine lawns.

Cut a Switch

Static’s momma used to get mad and say, “Go outside and cut a switch off that tree; I’m gonna wear you out.” Despite the complicity of trees in these spankings, Static retained a love for oaks, elms, and just about any ol’ thing that grows. So it seems two-faced that the city passed a tree preservation ordinance aimed at property owners and developers while turning a blind eye to the daily slaughter of trees on behalf of TXU. The energy company pays Asplundh to trim trees away from power lines, and the workers wield chainsaws with a glee rivaling Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. TXU’s “pruning” practices are a travesty, and if city officials really care about trees, they ought to tackle the energy company next.

All Hicked Up

Under the theory that she who laughs at herself first ruins the other fellow’s joke, the Weekly needs to take care of a little bidness. The Sept. 27 cover story, regarding the complaints of recently annexed Cowtonians, referred to one industrial development as Hicksville. Umm, that should have been the Hicks Field industrial area. The Weekly regrets the error extremely, as does Static, who has no room to call anyone a hick.

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