Standards of another neighborhood are irrelevent.
But, the photos you took paint a different picture. They not only show
your property, but one can easily observe portions of your neighbors'
a3.jpg shows part of a well-trimmed devil strip of the neighbor to the
a4.jpg shows several well maintained properties, plus nicely vertical
retaining walls without weeds at the base. Unfortunately for you, their
walls emphasize the tilt on the one section of wall.
Your neighbors, members of your part of town, seem to have pretty high
standards of maintenance.
15 minutes of weed removal at base of walls.
5 minutes mowing.
Dump the yard waste in a corner of your lot to compost.
Plant a tree in the strip where the sidewalk narrows, like your
neighbors. Very slow growing or shorter form are called for to avoid
growing into the wires above.
So, are you from Ohio? I used Google to look up the never-heard-before term
"devil strip", and
Dear Word Detective: Recently, a friend said that she parked her car on the
"devil strip" and
explained that this was the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road.
Can you tell me what
the origin of this term is? (She's from Ohio) -- Wendy Klepfer, via the internet.
Oh, well, there's your answer. People in (and from) Ohio are just plain weird.
(I'm allowed to say
that because I happen to live in Ohio at the moment.) Ohio boggles the mind. Our
sheriff just got himself indicted by a grand jury on 323 felony charges, but
steadfastly refuses to
stop running for re-election. And there's a good chance that he'll win. I think
there's something in
the water around here.
What people call that strip between the street and the sidewalk turns out to
depend on where they
live. When I was growing up in Connecticut, we called it the "shoulder," but
other terms heard
around the U.S. include "tree bank" (common in Massachusetts), " berm," "right
of way," "green
strip" and the logical, if unglamorous, "dog walking area."
According to The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), which pays
close attention to such
local lingo, "devil strip" is heard almost exclusively in Northeastern Ohio, up
around Akron. DARE
suggests that the term may arise from the strip's legal status as a sort of "no
man's land" between
public and private property.
"Devil" occurs in many such folk terms, applied to plants, animals, places and
things, usually those
considered dangerous or unattractive, and the sense of "devil" when found in
place names is often
"barren, unproductive and unused." DARE notes a similar term "devil's lane,"
first appearing around
1872, meaning the unusable strip of land between two parallel fences, often the
result of neighbors
being unable to agree on a common fence. And another term, "devil's footstep,"
dates back to around
1860 and means "a spot of barren ground." So it's not surprising that a strip of
land next to the
street, unusable by anyone, would be christened the "devil strip." In fact, for
Ohio, it's downright
I've lived in Northeastern Ohio my whole life. We call it the tree lawn.
It doesn't matter if there is no tree, it's still the tree lawn. I never
heard it called anything else. Maybe my world is too small.
Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin, everyone I knew called it "the space
between the sidewalk and the street". Of course it wasn't a big topic of
conversation, and people weren't obsessed with giving things nicknames back
then. Eventually I did start to hear it called the "parkway" or "parkway
Part of the reason for such non-concern about it was that in the City of
Milwaukee, the trees in the strip were planted by, and owned by the City.
The adjoining property owners were not allowed to landscape the strip in any
way. They were expected to keep the grass tended: weeds picked, mowed
properly, and watered. Some folks re-sodded or re-seeded the grass, but
anything more than that could lead to a ticket and removal. In commercial
areas, a request for pavement could be made. Carriage walks could be
installed in residential areas, but they had to be maintained to the same
standards as the sidewalk.
So the ordinary person only had to worry about watering and mowing the
grass, and keeping the dandelions down. There wasn't much of a reason to
come up with a special name for "the strip between the sidewalk and the
street", or "between the sidewalk and the street" for short.
The first time I heard it given any kind of derogatory name was a few years
after moving to Portland, Oregon where I heard it called the "hell strip".
By that time I had noticed that it wasn't a standardized, sanitized zone
like in Milwaukee, and that people landscaped them very differently, and
very seldom does that mean a single tree surrounded by sod. I don't think
I've ever seen anyone watering their "hell strip", either. But my
subdivision doesn't have sidewalks, so it's not something I see everyday.
A narrow concrete path between the sidewalk and the curb, often lined-up to
be an extension of the walkway to the front door. It's what you once walked
on to get to the door of the carriage that was parked in front of your
house. They are also often found where the rear door of a transit bus would
discharge passengers. (And by ordinance, the ajoining property owner is
required to clear it of snow just as they are required to clear the rest of
A subdivision is nothing more than the platting of a group of lots. (In most
states, 4 or more lots.) The governmental unit overseeing development in the
area may require different things. In most states, either the sale of the
individual lots, or building of homes can't take place until water and sewer
is installed, and all lots must have access to a public street (via private
easements may be allowed.) Most require easements for other utilities be
included in the subdivision plan.
Depending on state laws and local ordinances and goals, widths of street
easements, street lights, sidewalks, bike paths, greenspace, stormwater
retention ponds, public space between the sidewalk and the curb, and
landscaping are things that may or may not be included in any plan. These
things can change over time. For example, my city now requires sidewalks,
but when my subdivision was built in the 1970s it did not. (And the rules
were far different in the 1870's, as well!)
But basically, what a subdivision is comes down to a platting of 4 or more
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