Reuven from Rechavia asks:
I live in an apartment block where most residents do not keep sh’mittah.
The lawn is watered and trimmed as in other years and not just to keep the
grass alive. What action should I take? Do I have to declare my share in the
lawn ownerless? I must add that the lawn is watered by a preset computerized
There is an opinion that trimming grass is not considered forbidden work and
is always permitted during sh’mittah (see Sh’mittah K’hilchosoh
1:11). Although this is not the generally accepted practice, one does not have
to object if others follow this opinion. As stated in Lawn Care (1), garden care
is only permitted in order to prevent plants dying or to forestall danger. Only
rabbinically prohibited work may be performed to prevent the plants dying (or
suffering irreparable loss). Accordingly, watering is only permitted in order to
keep the grass alive. There are some species of grass which only require minimal
watering at widely spaced intervals. Others are more delicate and require more
frequent watering. According to Rav Sho’ul Reichenberg (author of Mishpetei
Eretz on Shvi’is), many people over water and therefore unnecessarily
create a need to mow the lawn since the grass then grows too fast! An occasional
evening watering with a hose should be sufficient. However, preset automatic
watering need not be changed, since no active work is being done during sh’mittah.
You do not need to declare your share in the lawn ownerless.