Gardening, specifically gardening of the preening, peacock-y front yard variety, can elicit different reactions from those perhaps most critical of feats of residential landscaping: the neighbors. For some, living near or next to a home with a flawlessly manicured, Sunset photoshoot-worthy lawn can be inspiring and give homeowners with aspiring greenthumbs a productive way to keep up with the Johnson’s while boosting a home’s curb appeal and naturally beautifying a neighborhood.

But for some homeowners, particularly those struggling with mediocre lawns and gardens, living in close proximity to a home flaunting oh-so perfect landscaping can stir up feelings of envy, resentment, loathing and can even lead to sabotage — just call it front yard jealously gone bad.

Why can’t MY garden look like that? Sometimes I just hate that Rosemary Hinkle!

Ugh. If only these moles would move next door to that damned Martha-Stewart-in-training's yard.

Oh! Well, looky there! There’s Betty Jane trimming her prize-winning roses again! [audible grunt and eye roll]

Do you have to make a piddle, Fluffy? Let me check to see if Mr. Brady isn’t out front so you can go make one on his hydrangeas!

That said, it's not entirely clear if unchecked garden envy was behind the vengeful actions of Kristen Thompson, 37, of McHenry, Ill. but it is a possibility.

In 2008, Thompson allegedly posted a Craigslist ad that invited users to stop by a suburban McHenry home and help thin out the property's front yard. This, of course, entailed folks helping themselves to flowers, bushes, and other plants (it's unclear if lawn ornaments were involved) for free — essentially, Thompson's post advertised a horticultural garage sale without price tags. And Craigslist users who caught the ad did just that: they swung by the home — shovels and hoes in tow, I'd like to think — and uprooted whatever was available for the taking. The only problem was that the home with all the flora up for grabs didn’t belong to Thompson. It belonged to a neighbor.

After the victim got wind that random people were unabashedly rooting around in and pilfering plants from his front yard, he returned home and contacted the police who launched an investigation to find out who exactly posted the ad. Just this past week, Thompson was arrested for placing the fraudulent Craigslist ad and charged with felony theft.

Explains the Chicago Tribune: "Deputies met with a woman who said she went to the address in the ad to take some flowers and bushes. Officials believe people responding to the ad did not know the posting was fake and were acting in good faith."

The investigation revealed that the posting originated from a neighbor’s home at which point Thompson turned herself in to authorities and posted a $15,000 bond. She’s due to appear in court on May 13.

Again, although Thompson could have very well placed the Craigslist ad because she found the victim/neighbor's yard to be overgrown and unsightly or had some other kind of beef with him, I do think homeowners with the finest, most brag-worthy front yards on the block should consider this weird true crime story as a cautionary tale: Remember to be nice to neighbors that are less fortunate in the gardening department (it wouldn't hurt to share advice) or else you may wake up one morning to find strangers from Craigslist milling about your front yard and uprooting your prized plants.

Via [The Chicago Tribune]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Landscaping envy gone bad
After a lengthy investigation, an Illinois woman is arrested for posting a Craigslist ad that offered free flowers and bushes — in her unsuspecting neighbor's