A ROW of wooden stakes is driving keen gardener Maria Garford up the pole.

They have been planted on a grass verge outside her Elvetham Heath, Fleet, home to stop cars being parked on it.

But the explanation has come as a shock to Mrs Garford who said that she has never seen a vehicle parked there.

She is particularly upset because, since moving into her home in Ramsdell Road 18 months ago, the strip of grass has become her pride and joy.

"Although the grass doesn't belong to me I've kept it looking like Wimbledon centre court," she said.

"I couldn't believe it when we returned from holiday and found these wooden stakes planted in it."

She claimed that the poles, along with another 14 placed outside a neighbour's house, made the road look like a prison camp.

"There's no way I can mow the grass now," said 61-year-old Mrs Garford. "I would have to cut it with scissors, and I'm not doing that."

She and 14 neighbours have signed a petition asking Hart Council to remove the poles as soon as possible.

In reply John Foggo, the council's highways chief, has promised to discuss the matter with the house builders who planted the poles.

He said in a letter that the work had been done to pave the way for the road to be taken over by the council.

The road has to be in perfect condition, he added, and this includes ensuring that vehicles can't park on the verges.

Mr Foggo said a possible solution might be to transform the verge into a footway.