Would you turn in your neighbor to the police for watering their lawn on the wrong day? By the end of June, some 1,441 Austinites had done just that. That means subjecting the neighbor to a Class C misdemeanor citation which costs several hundred dollars and, if not paid, results in a warrant for the person’s arrest.

Under recently enacted water rules, Austinites can only water their lawns on two designated days each a week and sprinklers may not run between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Many Texas cities have such restrictions, even though water conservation should naturally flow from greater scarcity if prices were based on market rates.

On the other hand, last year a 70-year-old Utah woman was arrested and jailed for failing to water her lawn. But it isn’t just watering that attracts the yard police. Earlier this month, Canton, Ohio approved up to 30 days of jail time for residents who fail to mow their lawn. Perhaps these landscaping lawbreakers can mow the jail grounds while they dine at taxpayers’ expense.

Then there is Paul Griffiths, the disabled Bristol, England resident, who last month was convicted and fined more than $1,500 U.S. dollars after his collie allegedly relieved herself on the lawn in front of his home. No neighbor complained but the magistrate’s “dog warden” spotted the act on closed circuit television cameras.

With more than 5,000 city, state, and federal criminal laws applicable to every Texan, our advice is to hit the law books before doing lawn work and remember, when we give government an inch, it will take the yard.

– Marc Levin