What It Means If You See A Bunch Of Forks In Someone's Yard

While there are a wide variety of ways people choose to decorate their yards, most folks won't stick a large number of plastic forks pointy side up into their grass for aesthetic value. That doesn't mean you'll never find plastic utensils decorating yards and fields, though. While there are a few reasons plastic forks may be stuck into someone's grass, the likeliest possibilities are that the property owners are the victims of a prank ... unless they're trying to deter cats and other animals.

Decorating lawns and fields with odd objects as a joke dates back to at least the 1970s when plastic lawn flamingos were used to decorate the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Plastic forks have been used for similar pranks since at least the 1980s, merely a few decades after they started being mass produced. "Forking," as the prank is known, is even popular enough to have its own entry in Urban Dictionary.

Forking is a popular prank

If the plastic forks show up covering a neighbor's lawn or the local high school's football field right around Halloween, April Fool's Day, or Senior Prank Day, then it's likely the property owners have been victims of forking. The prank gained popularity after the MTV docuseries "High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks, and Controversies" aired an episode in 2004 about students at North Penn High School who managed to stick somewhere in the ballpark of 33,000 forks into the grounds around their school. Not all fork-related senior pranks ended with fun MTV appearances, though. Half the graduating class at Comfort High School in Comfort, Texas, were suspended in 2021 for a forking prank. 

It's probably safe to assume that if your local high school is covered in forks, then mischievous students are behind it. That doesn't mean homeowners are immune to this prank, though, as it's not unheard of for suburbanites to wake up to their front lawns covered in forks. While amusing, there is also an environmental toll to this prank; plastic cutlery is difficult to recycle and is listed as one of the deadliest items for marine life by the organization Ocean Conservancy.  

Plastic forks can deter animals from gardens

While less exciting than a bizarre prank, another possible reason for a yard full of forks is homeowners deterring cats or other animals from entering a garden. Relative to prank-related forks, animal deterrent-related forks are more likely to be strategically placed around parts of gardens regularly visited by stray cats, and less likely to be arranged to spell out insults. The reasoning behind using plastic forks to keep animals out of your garden is, in theory, animals will either mistake the forks for predators or touch them, find them unpleasant, and avoid the area.

This hack has also gained popularity with houseplant lovers on TikTok who sometimes suggest keeping cats out of houseplants by placing plastic forks in the soil around plants. Gardeners looking for a greener option may find pinecones to be an effective and eco-friendly plastic fork alternative for deterring animals. Wooden chopsticks are also a popular alternative.