I have an issue I need to resolve for which I am curious about the legal implications of various avenues I am considering. I have asked an initial question, and I foresee there being possible add-on and follow-up questions related to the same issue.

The initial question is here: Can a city legally force a homeowner to remove their garden?

I am interested to know what other ways I legally have of pursuing this, but I did not want to ask about "What are all my avenues?" in that question, as that is not the focus of that initial question. And speaking of which, is asking "What laws or legal options do I have for situation X?" on topic for law SE? If yes, I can make such a question. If no, could you help me out here so that I can make good questions for this site?

I do not know of any lawyers in the area who would deal in something like this. I have wanted to find lawyers for various things in the past with no success, as many of them around here are the type that deal with auto or work injuries or in reducing traffic tickets. I have even asked some of them before if they know of any lawyers who deal in "situation X", but the response has always been "No, I can't help you find anyone for that. Try the phone book or Google it." Which I have done. So any advice of "Consult a lawyer" would be met with "Maybe, if I could find one that deals with this sort of thing."

I am planning to write to the city soon, which I'm not even sure how to go about (I might ask other questions about that, such as "Does a city have to acknowledge a hand-delivered letter, because I want to get it to them sooner, or do I have to mail it?"), but I thought it would be good to be more prepared first.

For my specific issue at hand, mentioned in the above question: please note that I really do not care what anyone thinks or how they feel about my lawn. I just want to be left alone to use my lawn how I see fit; I know it's not normal within the city and I don't care. I also want to be able to continue my garden however I please (ie: I'm worried I'll get a response like "Ok fine. But we require it look like a conventional garden, so you need to keep it all tilled and neatly plant your dandelions in rows with the suggested spacing...).

I appreciate feedback and discussion that results in me providing good law.SE questions and which helps me reach my end goal. I would also appreciate any advice on where to put further questions if they are not appropriate for law.SE (ex: my possible future question mentioned above about mailing the city, is that better posed as a law.SE question or a politics.SE question?)

So the most important focus for this meta question from my point of view is "What can I do legally to stop the action the city is taking and be allowed to do my gardening how I want, and what other questions should I be asking?" And the focus from your point of view is likely "How can I ask my questions in a law.SE appropriate way?"

2 Answers 2


In general, the answer to, "Can Law.SE help me solve my legal problem?" is explicitly no. (See )

On most Stack Exchange sites (including Law.SE), a question of the form, "What are all possible solutions to X" is likely to be closed as "too broad" (a.k.a., a "list" question).

Finally, if you have sought a lawyer to address a legal problem and not found one, then either:

  1. There is no realistic legal approach to addressing your problem. (I have never found a shortage of lawyers willing to fight a losing battle so long as their bills are paid.) Or:
  2. You haven't looked very hard. E.g., Have you contacted the bar associations covering the jurisdiction in question?
  • "Have you contacted the bar associations covering the jurisdiction in question?" I don't even know how to do that, but I assume it's not difficult and that a Google search will quickly spell it out for me. I will do that. Historically, I have just asked lawyers in the area if they could help me find a lawyer who handles the types of situations I have wanted one for, but they have not wanted to give me any more time of day beyond whatever their specialty was. I will do as you have suggested here.
    – Aaron
    Jun 6, 2018 at 23:07
  • @Aaron – I guess that's not obvious to people not familiar with the profession in the U.S. But the bar associations are, ostensibly, the means by which the profession avails itself to the public: Every one I have ever seen has offered a referral service. (NB: Not every member of the bar is necessarily a member of a bar association, but lawyers looking for business virtually always are.) For example, I think every state has a bar association, as do large counties and cities: E.g., you could contact the NY State Bar or NYC Bar Association.
    – feetwet Mod
    Jun 7, 2018 at 10:09

I would add that the underlying problem is (at least apparently) not a legal one, it is a political one. Even if your town prohibits growing vegetables in your back yard, if that is the law as they promulgated it, your only recourse is to campaign for a change in the law, and that is a political process. You might have some tiny hope for a legal solution if the official misstated / misinterpreted the law and a lawyer might point out that the effect of "and" is in some ordinance. Otherwise, you would need to identify a fundamental constitutional right that is being infringed by the ordinance. But there are very few identifiable "fundamental constitutional rights" (mostly contained in the Bill of Rights) – "the right to grown your own food" is not one of them. Now, if your religion required you to grow all of your own food, then you could sue on First Amendment grounds (Free Exercise clause) and maybe get an accommodation. A clever attorney might make something out of the restriction by reference to the Takings Clause, except that there is not much left of that clause.

  • This is a good answer to the associated site question too!
    – feetwet Mod
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:17
  • Part of this answer is, I think, what's going to work for me. Since I posted these questions, I have talked to multiple city officials. In fact, it got escalated quickly all the way up to the mayor. I asked about accommodations or exemptions: nobody said there were any, and some people outright said that there are none. The mayor himself told me (obviously in a more political way [only slightly though; he was not very professional or sympathetic]) that there are no exemptions, he doesn't care what I do with the plants, and that "the city would not be livable if there were... (1/2)
    – Aaron
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:37
  • 1
    (2/2) ... areas of grass in town more than a few inches." or something to that effect. Anyway, he outright told me I would not, and could not, get any exemption, and that I need to do as I'm told or leave town... but then when I was scouring the city ordinances again I found an exemption this time that says essentially "... unless the plants are actively harvested and used for some purpose." So either the town code enforcement and the mayor both are unaware of this exemption in their own ordinances, or they are hoping I don't notice it. Fortunately, I showed codes some of my harvest earlier.
    – Aaron
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:41
  • Still, even though I think that exemption is going to fix me up, I still am pleased with how my law.SE question turned out, and I learned more about the law through it and I thank you guys for all your help! You guys have taught me some more legal stuff and also helped me figure out how to find lawyers better than using the phone book.
    – Aaron
    Jun 8, 2018 at 21:43

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