Aussie gardener defends divisive roadside act after travelling 2,100kms

Nathan Stafford from Sydney tackled the unruly patch of grass in a bid to 'help people'. But not everyone agreed it was the right thing to do.

Aussie gardener Nathan Stafford clearing overgrown nature strip in New Zealand.
Aussie gardener Nathan Stafford cleared an unruly nature strip grass but received some unexpected backlash. Source: Facebook/Nathans Lawns and Gardens

An Aussie gardener's thoughtful move has earned him a mouthful from critics who have surprisingly slammed him for choosing to tidy an overgrown nature strip on a suburban road to help residents and spruce things up a little.

Nathan Stafford, of Nathan's Lawns and Gardens, has made a name for himself on social media by helping struggling Aussies who can't afford to maintain unruly gardens at their homes. He's often bombarded with requests to help clear overgrown vegetation in neighbourhood areas, he told Yahoo News Australia.

His growing popularity recently took him to New Zealand where he tackled overgrown grass on a nature strip in Auckland. A video shared on social media shows the state of the unruly mess surrounding a sign alerting drivers to speed bumps.

He quickly gets to work at chopping away the greenery to reveal a timber-framed garden bed. Stafford said he spent 18 minutes on the simple job with pretty incredible results. And while locals were grateful, it's some Aussies back home who weren't too impressed, he told Yahoo.

"The first criticism I got is that the grass was going on the street. Many said I should have moved it quicker [for the safety] of motorcyclists," he told Yahoo. While loose grass clippings on roads can be a safety hazard, especially to motorbike riders near corners, as a one-man band he claimed he was working as efficiently as he could.

"Secondly, I was criticised by how it looked," he continued, with critics claiming the grass was likely home to various insects including bees. "They said I destroyed their little village," he explained.

The Sydney gardener said he was also accused of tackling a job that "wasn't his responsibility" and instead he should have let it be. Typically, local councils are responsible for maintaining nature strips however, according to the gardener, they're rarely maintained as often as they need to be.

Stafford dismissed the backlash he's received admitting it "doesn't bother" him. Defending his work, he said he does it to "help people" regardless of how it makes some critics on social media feel.

"I think of all the times there's been a mother walking past with prams or people with wheelchairs — they can't get past," he explained. "They've got to go on the grass and it's a pain.

"I'm doing it to help all them and there are lots of people who can't afford to do it themselves".

Aussie gardener Nathan Stafford pictured smiling
Aussie gardener Nathan Stafford just can't help himself. Source: Facebook

Despite the backlash from some, his work earned him ample praise on social media when he shared the video this week. He asked his followers if the criticism was "fair or just unnecessary".

"Well, if someone had maintained this in the first place it would not have gone rank," one person wrote in the comments. "It is now neat and tidy and will green up rapidly and look beautiful with a regular clip. Great job Nathan."

Another agreed the sign looks "much better" than before, despite some arguing the lush green blades of grass looked nicer.

Last month, the popular gardener shared what he claimed was the "greatest gardening hack of all time" as he revealed the clever way he manages to fit all of his backyard trimmings into his overflowing green garden bin. But once again it proved divisive.

Stafford said he often "cops a lot of hate" for the work he does but said he will "continue to help as many struggling people as possible".

Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.