Atlanta still picking at Kirkwood man’s garden

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 4, 2014
Ray McGrath leans on a shovel in his garden at his Kirkwood home. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Ray McGrath leans on a shovel in his garden at his Kirkwood home. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

Ray McGrath is beginning to wonder if he’s being targeted.

McGrath attended an Atlanta Municipal Court hearing in April regarding his front yard on Howard Street. The city’s Code Citation Office in September 2013 cited him because someone complained that his yard was “covered with high weeds and overgrowth.” The high weeds and overgrowth is McGrath’s English Country Garden, which is a style of gardening that follows no rigid pattern and contains plants of varying height.

His neighbors bombarded the solicitor’s office with emails and the judge dismissed the citation. McGrath thought that would be the end of it.

He was wrong.

On Aug. 26, he got a note from the city’s Office of Solid Waste Services.

“They posted what they call a courtesy ticket on my mailbox saying the public right of way, back to the edge of the sidewalk, needs to be cleaned up,” McGrath said. “I wasn’t aware that it was a problem or an issue but with the city. Apparently it is.”

McGrath said he’s also not sure how he’s supposed to fix it. As best he can tell, he didn’t properly maintain the monkey grass planted next to the curb.

“I was given three days and I did call back on Friday saying that I was wanting a review of what I had done and to know where I go from there,” McGrath said. “Of course, Friday was the beginning of the holiday weekend so they all left in the afternoon.”

He said on Sept. 4 that he hasn’t received a call back.

“I have no idea where we go from there,” he said. “It’s like it was before. It’s a continuous guessing game.”

McGrath has lived in Kirkwood since 1982. He’s well-known around the neighborhood for his eccentric yard and his general enthusiasm about gardening.

Doug Wood, McGrath’s neighbor, said he doesn’t understand what the city’s beef is with McGrath’s garden.

“I’m not exactly sure what they’re doing over there,” Wood said. “It seems like just plain harassment.  … If you can’t get him from code enforcement, they’re going after him now from another angle.”

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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