Around the Bluhmin’ Town

‘Yard art’ or junk?


What is the difference between “yard art” and junk? This question has pitted neighbor against neighbor and has evidently caused quite a few heated debates.

A woman emailed me to say that she has a beautiful home but is living next to a “heap of junk.” She said the “mess next-door” started with a few rusty milk cans strewn around and has grown into “a full-blown pile of old, ugly worthless stuff causing a blight.” 

The “junk-loving neighbor” was not amused when the woman offered to haul off his “offensive clutter” to the dump. Not surprisingly, the man declined her generous offer.

A lady in Phoenix is being sued by her neighbor, because her “collection” of wooden rabbits that she displays in her front yard is “downgrading the neighborhood.” Evidently the lady has over 200 rabbits (each one has a name) that are sitting, standing or lying in a small front yard.

The distraught neighbor, who has filed suit, claims to “love rabbits,” but not the wooden variety that “take up every inch of lawn and look like a little army of rodents with glaring eyes and twisted ears.” 

Worse, the “rabbit-lady” claims that her neighbor has turned her into a “basket case,” and has caused her to want to sell her home and move to a more “rabbit-friendly” community.

Back to our little corner of the world . . . I have noticed that quite a few people like to express themselves by the “stuff” that they display in their yards. When does “art,” or the “right of expression” become our neighbor’s “nightmare?”

I received an email from a  man who claims that his neighbor’s wind chimes are so “loud, annoying and intrusive” that he sometimes wonders if he is living next to “a devil’s chapel. ” The poor man says he cannot enjoy an evening on his patio without earplugs.

Hey, sometimes “art” can create conflict. Chimes, wooden rabbits, rusty old antiques, these are just a few of the items that can make people lose their tempers.  

I have noticed a commode in someone’s front yard in one of our lovely rural communities, with flowers planted in the toilet bowl. So, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but toilets as “yard art?” I’m just glad that my neighbors don’t have anything like that lying around, because if they did, I’m afraid I’d make a “big stink.”

Some people will argue that the beauty of homeowners associations is that you never have to worry about driving home one day and seeing your neighbor’s yard filled with “junk.” You’d also be spared the horror of “loud, obnoxious chimes.”

True. But we might also miss all the “creativity.”

It’s fun to see old rusty harnesses nailed to ranch posts, wagons and wheels in front yards, unusual rock walls, cowboy artifacts, antiques, scarecrows, old plows, tractors, tools, saddles hung on fences, life-like elk and coyote statues sitting by driveways. Just drive around and it’s amazing what you’ll find!

What is art? When does it become junk? You decide. Or your neighbors (or HOA) will.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? You can email Judy at