Herefordshire Council wrote to tax payers saying not to trim, edge or weed grass, and return verges to their original state within 28 days.
One resident, Brian Hubbard, was reported in several daily newspapers as branding the council's "strong-arm tactics" as "absurd".
He was told he would be charged for remedial work if he persisted. But the council backtracked last week and apologised.
"Our parks and countryside service sent out a small number of letters advising householders of concerns regarding encroachment on to public open space," said a representative.
"Responses indicated many of the householders genuinely feel they are providing a public service by doing an extra bit to improve their neighbourhood.
"In light of this, we believe the letters gave the wrong message and should not have been sent out.
"We apologise for any misunderstanding and are retracting the letters and reviewing our approach."