Living on a much-traveled street, I find it is not easy to keep the grounds in front of the house clean. But homeowners on the 1100 North Laramie block in Austin have been, for the most part, doing just that for decades. The block has received compliments from people inside and outside the neighborhood. People walking down the block offer comments on the clean appearance of the block. When people come to visit me, they remark on the pleasantness of the block. People who have lived on the block come back to visit, and they have comments such as ‘You all still keep the block up,’ or ‘This block keeps its good appearance.’ The houses on 1100 North Laramie are old brick bungalows and stuccos, but the care of the property is obvious.

The Laramie homeowners don’t seem to need a reminder to tell them what they should or should not do. The homeowners on the block have the same thing in common, which is cleanliness. They want pleasant, comfortable surroundings where they live. So they do things that make the block pleasant to look at. The block looks good because homeowners make minor repairs, cut grass, shape shrubs, and clear trash and garbage from the front areas.

First, homeowners make minor repairs. For example, a few years ago, two homeowners on the west side of the block rebuilt their front steps. Another example was my next-door neighbor who rebuilt her front steps soon after that. Just recently, a new homeowner had new concrete steps and a walkway installed. Several years ago, I rebuilt my front steps and had sections of my walkway replaced. Homeowners know that minor repairs make the outside of their houses look good.

Another factor is that all the homeowners on the block cut their grass and shape their shrubs. During the summer, homeowners cut their grass regularly. Not one weekend passes without the sound of one or two lawn mowers buzzing. Sometimes, it seems as if everyone cuts his or her grass at the same time. This gives the block the effect of a long green carpet on both sides of the street. Also, homeowners keep their shrubs looking beautiful all the time. Near my house there is a house that has two shrubs in the front shaped to look nice all the time. Another house on the west side of the street has well-groomed shrubs. A house on the corner has a row of well cared for shrubs planted to form a natural fence.

The most important factor is that the homeowners police their front yards. As much as people in cars pass through the block constantly throwing trash, and even garbage, from their automobiles, homeowners are just as constant in cleaning up behind them. One day, I saw my neighbor who lives across the street from me leave her house and walk towards her car. Before she reached her car, she picked up paper, plastic bottles, and other trash from her front yard. She didn’t stop at the end of her property. She picked up trash on the grass near the curb of her neighbor’s house, then walked to the corner with trash in both hands.

She dropped the trash in the metal garbage can near the corner bus stop. After all this, she walked back to her car and drove away. On another occasion, I recall my husband chasing wind-blown newspaper until he had collected every sheet. Apparently, someone in a car threw the news, business, and auto sections of the Chicago Tribune out of their car window. Just as my neighbor did, my husband walked about four houses down to the bus stop to place the newspaper in the metal trash can. Two homeowners on the block also keep plastic grocery bags hanging from their fences. When they leave their homes, they put any trash they pick up in the bags.

The 1100 North Laramie homeowners take time to police their street. Their concern for the condition of the street, the walkways and their front yards make a difference.