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YouTuber's seemingly helpful attempts to 'fix' yards without permission draws sharp criticism: 'I would be so upset'

"Doing what should be a gesture of kindness for someone … is lying when you are exploiting their reactions/faces/homes for a profit."

"Doing what should be a gesture of kindness for someone ... is lying when you are exploiting their reactions/faces/homes for a profit."

Photo Credit: iStock

The obsession with neatly mowed and manicured lawns is once again gaining traction on the internet as some landscaping influencers seemingly break the law for clout.

A new niche has emerged online as landscapers have taken to filming themselves cleaning up unkempt or overgrown properties and installing short-trimmed grass lawns. Content creators will then often post videos about their experiences, often featuring narrated timelapses and documentation of interactions with property owners.

Perhaps the most popular of these channels, SB Mowing, has gained over 2 million subscribers on YouTube, but that creator seems to get permission every time he begins a job. That makes his account's videos hard to find issue with, apart from the videos sometimes feeling exploitative of people experiencing hard times and from perpetuating an expectation of finely manicured grass lawns.  

In a post on the subreddit r/NoLawns titled "Mowing People's Lawns Without Their Permission Is Not Okay," though, a Redditor has used the platform to lament how some creators making these videos do not even get permission.

The poster takes issue with the fact that an unnamed lawnmowing influencer — later identified by the video titles mentioned as Al Bladez — is often altering properties without the consent of their owners, with videos like "ANGRY homeowner FREAKED OUT and is threatening to sue me" and "It was a RISK mowing this yard with NO permission WHILE HOMEOWNER WAS INSIDE!!" 

What's more, they sometimes post interactions with property owners and make them the subject of the videos, even when the property owner has a negative reaction to trespassing on their property with cameras and possibly mowing over purposefully grown plants amid the overgrown grass and weeds. (Though at least in the "RISK mowing this yard" one, the owner did not end up minding and paid him for the work.)

Central to the Redditor's complaint is the fact that the YouTuber is doubtless making profit from their channel and using the people and properties in their videos to drive views. 

"I would be so upset," one Redditor wrote.

The OP noted: "Doing what should be a gesture of kindness for someone under the pretense it is done for free is lying when you are exploiting their reactions/faces/homes for a profit."

Disputes over lawns between neighbors or perhaps between people and their homeowners association are a relatively common thing in the United States.

While it is more sustainable and cost-effective to populate a lawn with native plants, HOAs and other parties interested in the property of their neighbors are often begging for their neighborhood to maintain a uniform look of short-cut grass lawns.

This practice, although it is more costly and uses more water, is often forced on homeowners. In this case, it seems it is occurring directly and without the consent of the property owners. While in some cases the operator of the Al Bladez account states there was a code violation, he is still entering the property and changing it without permission or knowledge of the owner's preferences. 

Luckily, several states and municipalities have begun offering incentives for re-wilding properties and limiting the power of vindictive HOAs.

Other users sounded off in the comments with similar stories.

One bemoaned the actions of a former well-intentioned neighbor, "He mowed over a field of wildflowers and a two year old slow-growth tree."

Another told of a person who had one such "lawnscaping" influencer mow their lawn while they were in the hospital, and they returned to find it decimated. "Turns out the guy's 'over grown lawn' was actually a certified native plants/pollinator space that the landscaper had just ruined. … Last I heard he was taking him to court for damages but also getting some push back from others in the community because YouTube guy was 'just trying to be nice.' No, he wasn't he was just trying to get money! It's infuriating honestly."

Another succinctly hit the nail on the head: "Consent matters," they said. "Consent always matters."

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