Dear PoPville – Broken Glass and Pottery to Keep Pets out of Curbside Planters?


“Dear PoPville,

Is this Legal? This is a photo of a flower planter at the corner of 10th and French NW in Shaw. I saw it the first time while walking my dog a few weeks ago and meant to go back for a photo but forgot until today. The flower planter is filled with broken glass and pottery. While broken glass is not uncommon in this area by any means, this looks quite intentional, presumably to ward off dogs or rats. I’m not quite sure what the payoff is supposed to be … sure, you keep the planter free of poop, but it’s full of sharp rubbish. This seems to be a hazard not only to dogs, but small children, and while I don’t want to be a nosy neighbor, I’d hate to think of some kid getting tetanus trying to pick up a shiny piece of glass out of this planter.”

26 Comment

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’ve seen broken pottery and such as decoration for gardens and it looks nice, but this def looks like trash, dangerous trash. I’d call the people that ticket for illegal dumping. You should also call Rep Issa and Rep Harris because they care a lot what happens in DC.

  • Call 311 and report it as a road safety hazard

  • I’m wondering if this is a case of a homeowner/resident who can’t be bothered to clean the treebox, rather than a case of someone deliberately putting down sharp things to discourage rats/dogs. There are a lot of weeds outside the treebox, and the plants within the treebox don’t look very well maintained.
    Either way, report it to 311 under the category of Sanitation Violation.

  • Clean it up – with a shovel. If some of the plants get caught up in the process, well, them’s the breaks.

  • Because it is their responsibility to maintain the treebox that they don’t own with their own time and money.

  • Can you post the exact address so we can contact the city?

  • Someone has been watching too much Home Alone.

  • i’d rather have shards of pottery than poop.

  • That, ladies and gentlemen, is called an intentional tort. And I also doubt it would be effective against dogs. So futility plus liability.

  • No, that is not legal. Not in any way, shape or form.

  • It may not be effective against dogs but it sure do a number on my flip flop or my 16 month old if he were to trip as we walked past.

    • justinbc

      Well yeah but so would the cement. Or your stairs at home. Or practically anything. We should rarely use “would this hurt a baby who’s tripped himself” as a measuring stick for whether something is unsafe.

  • This is so wrong. Look, I get it, people need to pick up their dogs crap. As a dog owner I’m just as annoyed as the non-dog owners (I HATE when my dog accidentally gets a “poop shoe” from stepping in uncollected poop). But, lets say you tripped and fell into that abomination. Instead of some skinned knee you’re in the emergency room with glass in your hands & arms. Old people might get dizzy and fall or toddlers. If I saw that and it wasn’t fixed by the offending neighbor post haste, I would personally save every bag of dog crap I had and leave it on their steps EVERY day until that was gone. Passive aggressive for the win.

  • 1. don’t wear flip flops in the city. seriously.
    2. what about the spikes that are often on the metal surround treeboxes?

  • It probably is, actually. In most (all?) of residential DC, the tree box is part of the property and therefore belongs to the property owner with a requirement to maintain it. “How is it there’s a sidewalk there, and the City maintains the trees?” one might ask. The answer is there’s a mandatory easement for the sidewalk and trees.

  • +1 Won’t someone think of the children?!?!?! Hate that.

  • @ Accountering (2:53): Not victim-blaming (and that term is quickly becoming cliched), rather blaming someone unitelligent enough to wear open soled shoes on a dirty city streets with glass and debris everywhere. it’s called common sense, and it will take ya a long way!

  • No. The tree box is owned by the city, not the property owner. The property owner is required to maintain the sidewalk, row of grass if there is one and/or or tree box (mostly keep it free from litter or high weeds) but not the tree itself.

  • “We should rarely use “would this hurt a baby who’s tripped himself” as a measuring stick for whether something is unsafe.”

    When it is intentional –yeah we should. Putting shards of glass along public right of way is a dick move. Leaving shards of glass along the public right of way is a dick move.

  • This is actually a great idea. Thanks for the tip!

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