Respect the Lawn Chair

I told Trena this yesterday, but she didn’t believe me. But, in Baltimore, after you shovel out your car, you ‘save’ your space with a lawn chair. I thought it was kind of ghetto when I first moved here.  But, honestly — when you’ve spent three days digging 4 feet of snow out your car and shoveling the entire road, you want to be able to come home and park. I know it’s public property. But, you just don’t care. I have had trash cans, recycling bins, lawn mowers and such stolen from outside. But, if you put something in your parking space after a snow — you will always have a space. They will steal your trash can, but they respect the lawn chair.

This week I’ve seen headboards, children’s chairs, a doll house and even an old tire.  But, by tradition — you use a lawn chair. Think about it, we’re mostly street parking. We don’t have driveways. I have a garage, but my alley is inaccessible with all the snow.

My porch chairs are from Restoration Hardware. And, I’m quite frankly afraid they wouldn’t be in the space when I come back. Plus, I promised myself that this year I was going to be classy and not put anything in my spot. I was so sure that my neighbors would respect my space. But, alas. No. Someone took my parking spot.

So, I’m saving my space the classy way. With two orange cones borrowed from the Baltimore PD.



  1. I used to live in Chicago and this was common practice there, too. It was amazing how respectful people would be of the lawn chairs when other (more valuable)property often got such little respect. Hope the cones work for you!

  2. I recall a post by Chicknits in Chicago where she used an ironing board. As long as everyone knows the language of the lawn chair, then you’re good to go.

  3. Yes, common practice here in Philly. Lawn chairs, cones and recycle bins are all “approved and recognized” spot holders.

    Yesterday was my first outing since the blizzard. Shoveled out my car, saved my spot, I thought i was set. But i could not get back in my spot!

  4. I had so-so luck with the lawn chair when I lived in Baltimore. Quiet neighborhood of families and retired couples–didn’t even need the lawn chair. High-occupancy rental units downtown or in the burbs–didn’t matter if you stood watch with a shotgun in your hands, you were going to lose that parking space…and your place holder.

  5. Having lived in Texas and Louisiana most of my life, I wouldn’t have had a clue about reserving your parking space with lawn chairs! I guess I would have thought the wind blew them out into the street! LOL

  6. We’re suburban, so there’s plenty of parking, off-street and on, but when we first moved here, I came home one day and saw lawn chairs lining the street. In our neighborhood (outside of Philadelphia), they mean “parade viewing spot reserved”. It was a bit mind-boggling — not just the chairs (and the respect they commanded!), but the idea that our little old street was the venue for parades on a regular basis. It was all new to us . . . it’s an east coast thing, maybe. Or a mid-Atlantic one?

  7. LOL- when I read the title of your post, I knew exactly what you were talking about. I lived in Hampden during the last big snow in ’96. Oh yeah, those lawn chairs do the trick, all right.
    I have such fond memories of that snowstorm, and I am sure we’ll all have great memories of this one, too. (in time, in time … :=)

  8. Although I have lived in the snowy midwest for much of my life, I have never heard of this before! Thanks for the education!

  9. I live in Chicago and we do the same thing. Some people even use two lawn chairs and then place a broom on the seats so a larger space is saved. You definitely MUST respect the lawn chair! lol!

  10. This gave me such a chuckle this morning. Given that I live in a small town where you can drive in and park right in front of whatever store you want (and leave your keys in your unlocked car) this seems very amusing to me. Also, we’ve had loads of flooding lately and these exact same lawn chairs can be seen all over the district bunched up against a tree or a fence amid other flood debris. In fact, I noticed one yesterday stuck out in the middle of the creek and I assumed it was washed there by the flood, but now I think that it must be one of Edna’s cows reserving her favourite bathing spot.

  11. Look at that snow!!! Wow! It’s funny the little quirks that we humans do, but I totally understand the why. I like your traffic cones idea. I can see next year the street littered with these. You may have started a new trend. 🙂

  12. Too funny! I live on the Canadian prairies – currently small town but have been in downtown Winnipeg… thanks for the regional education! Our lawn chairs are packed away so the wind doesn’t carry them away to the Gulf Stream!!! Otherwise you southern northerners would have to watch for flying lawn chairs!!!

    • 🙂 And, like so many things in Chicago, not enforced at all… Thankfully we haven’t had enough snow to really have to shovel our spots out for a few years now!

  13. Yup, we did the same thing back in Chicago. It’s kind of reassuring to see that it’s a more widespread practice!

  14. Girl, they’re doing the same thing here…you know it! If that ain’t triflin and ghetto, I don’t know what is! I agree with you. My mother reminded my brother to bring in the shovels early on because jokers (and she used much harsher language) would be stealing the shovels. They’re using anything they can around here to save a still slipping and sliding and getting stuck.

    A cabbie got stuck for hours 2 day ago right in front of our house! We’ve had some drama, haven’t we?! 🙂

  15. This is a funny post and greetings from Montreal, Quebec. Stealing someone’s shoveled out parking is done – often. So here is what I have seen done. A parking spot is shoveled out, for example. Someone comes along and steals it! The poor shoveler does not take out a cone – they take the shovel and shovel the snow back onto the car… effectively burying it. Anyway, the snow clearing is so well done here – the streets are cleaned quickly and efficiently usually over-night and a chair would quickly get eaten by a snow-blower – that it is rarely necessary to save a spot. I hope you will survive your terrible winter, it is a shame that all the snow is there instead of in Vancouver with the Olympics.

  16. Here’s another problem with lawn chairs in parking spaces. You have to wait while the driver pulls up to the saved parking space, gets out, moves the chair, goes back when the chair falls from the snow bank back into the street, then parks very carefully, but not carefully enough to avoid getting just a little stuck in the snow. Ask me how I know!!!

  17. I went to grad school in Baltimore, and lived in a row house off a main road. The plow NEVER went down there, and everyone had a lawn chair! Thanks for the memory!


  18. Laugh.. This posting made me laugh so hard. I can remember the first time that I used “the lawn chair”. My best friend was telling me that she had used “the lawn chair”, to save their parking spot. I just laugh until it happen to me. I returned home and could not get back into my spot. I was the first to bring it to my neighbor hood at the time. I put my lawn chair out in the morning, when I had returned after work there were many other “lawn chairs” out. laugh.

  19. Two Chicago stories:

    Was @ a friend’s home who had two out-of-town guests who were driving around the city. They returned from their adventure with a vintage side table that they found. They were so elated with and explained that they found it in the street. They just couldn’t understand why anybody would just drop great piece of furniture in the street. After a bit of questioning of exactly where in the street they sighted this, we Chicagoans figured out that it was a neighbor’s parking space saver. We told them to return that piece post haste before trouble ensued. They were dumbfounded and we assured them that they had to return the side table

    The residents on the side streets in Chinatown use lawn chairs and the familiar orange cones to save their spaces ALL YEAR ROUND. It’s an interesting cultural nuance because only the Italian-Americans (Chinatown is an old Italian neighborhood) did this. The Chinese-American residents would not participate.

    Go figure.

  20. Oh, I do so love living where snow is a rarity and lawn chairs are only seen at the beach and occasionally in the summer in the shade of the garage with the door up and the residents kicking back watching the world go by. What versatile things lawn chairs are. Good luck hanging on to your parking space.

  21. We live in a small town in Pa. and lawn chair space saving is a tradition here when it comes to parades. In the morning you park your lawn chair (or blanket if you’re going to watch the fire works on the bank of the Susquehanna) and it’s safe until the event starts. Was amazed when we first moved here. Hoping you’re surviving the mounds of snow you’ve gotten. Sally

  22. Oh yes! The lawn chair (or garbage can or cone)! After once having an across the street neighbor move his car into the spot I had just cleared of wet, heavy snow while I grabbed a cup of coffee, we resort to space saving. I do love the idea of reshoveling the snow on an offender though. What’s fair is fair. The guy never did shovel in front of his own place.

  23. Yes! Where I live in Chicago we call this “dibs.” And it definitely doesn’t have to be a lawn chair. As soon as the snow stops falling the streets are littered with all sorts of interesting objects, despite the fact that the whole thing is really not legal at all…

  24. Oh yes, I was so surprised when I moved to Baltimore years ago. Lawn chairs appeared mid-winter, sort of like lost robins who didn’t make it all the way south for the season. Thanks for sharing this funny, local custom….also good for 4th of July parades;-)

  25. We do this in Chicago as well, for the very same reason! You see all kinds of stuff saving parking spots. But people really do respect it. Its like some unspoken universal rule: REspect the Lawn Chair!

  26. We do the same thing here in Trenton (NJ). Except for my uncle. He’s special. He builds a little wall around his parking space with snow and ice, then leaves himself just enough room to back into it from the corner. (We’re on a one-way street, so it’s not exactly legal.) But he always has a parking space!

    My mother and I just use our plastic outside chairs, like everybody else.

  27. Boy, this post is really making me thankful for good job my city does clearing the streets after a snow storm. No more will I complain when the streets aren’t cleared as quickly as I think they should be. I see now I should be happy they’ve plowed at all!

  28. Why didn’t we think of this in Buffalo, Snow Capital of the Universe? It would have saved me many a late night swearing fit at finding my spot gone…

    You rock for having city traffic cones, end of 🙂

  29. I like the lawn chair idea. Not sure if it would fly here in Brooklyn. Someone would steal it!

  30. Aaah…the memories… This is certainly one thing I loathed about living in NYC – parking! Ugh! When we had a massive snowstorm, my car was buried for two weeks. With alternate-side street parking rules suspended, I saw no need to move my car. As soon as the suspension was lifted, it was on. Fortunately, I could find a spot if I got home from work early enough. If I had class in the evening, I would come home, park my car, and then take the train back to school. It was a hassle, but it worked! Lawn chairs would definitely not fly in Brooklyn (where I used to live). Not only would the chair be gone, it would be in the back seat of the car that took the parking spot! Whatareyagonnado?

  31. I love your traffic cones. Out in the SF Bay Area, where I live we have no snow, but we have no street parking, either. We live cheek by jowl and can only park on one side of the street. My retired neighbors spend ridiculous amounts of time doing what my husband calls the parking rumba — moving their cars so that they can always claim the space in front of their house. Oh what anxiety they must have when they have to use both cars. People leave cranky notes, and I’ve seen one particularly unhinged neighbor lose it entirely with a construction crew across the street. Man that was some fine entertainment.

    Thankfully we have a garage and big driveway, and unlike most of our neighbors we haven’t crammed our garage full of cr#p so we can still park our cars inside. It’s only when we have more than two cars-worth of visitors that we must get crafty.

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