By Benjamin St. Jacques
Home ownership isn’t just about taking care of what’s inside your four walls, but also taking care of what’s outside — namely, your lawn and hedges. Keeping up with regular yard maintenance can greatly increase your home’s curb appeal.
But what if your neighbors aren’t as mindful of their landscaping as you are? All it takes is a single home with overgrown lawns and shrubs to diminish the appearance of an entire block of otherwise well-kept homes. Not only is it an eyesore, but your neighbors’ tall grass and unkempt hedges are the perfect breeding ground for weeds, insects, and other pests that may spread to your property.
So how can you deal with a neighbor with overgrown landscaping? Do you have any recourse, or do you have to live with it? Is a confrontation inevitable? Let’s explore your options.
1. Call Your Municipality
You don’t have to have an award-winning lawn, but keeping it trim and neat is the law of many municipalities. In fact, most towns will send out inspectors during the spring and summer months to check for overgrowth on residents’ properties.
You can place an anonymous call to your town’s code enforcement department and ask them to inspect your neighbor’s home, or your entire street. The town inspector may come by and, if he agrees that the property isn’t up to code, he may issue a warning to your neighbor. The homeowner will usually have seven days to clean up his property. Hopefully it only takes this single warning for him to pull out the mower. If he doesn’t comply, then fines can begin to accrue.
And don’t be concerned about your neighbor getting angry with you. There’s no reason for him to know it was you who called. Your neighbor may think his home was identified as part of a routine inspection.
2. Have a Conversation
If you’d rather not get the town involved, then you can speak to your neighbor directly. Sometimes a simple conversation clears up a lot of confusion. You may learn that there are reasons the landscaping has been neglected. Maybe he’s recovering from an injury, has been away on vacation, or is caring for a family member. Or, maybe he claims he’s just too busy, which brings us to option #3.
3. Lend a Hand
The task of cleaning up overgrowth may seem daunting for your neighbor. You can relieve some of that burden by offering to help him clean up the property — at least one time. You may be thinking, “It’s his lawn! Why should I have to spend my time cleaning it up?”
It’s a fair point, but look at it this way: Helping out will go a long way in creating some neighborly goodwill, and he may be more willing to maintain his yard in the future as a result. Plus, he’ll owe you a favor, which is always good to have in your back pocket.
4. Forget It
Another option is to simply forget it. It’s not your lawn, so it’s not your problem. Just focus on keeping your yard looking its best and let your neighbor do what he wants. Granted, this may be a lot easier said than done. Investing in a privacy fence may help keep your neighbor’s messy yard out of sight and out of mind.
For most of us, neighbors are a fact of life and learning to peacefully co-exist is essential. If the people living next door to you are being more neglectful than neighborly, then try one of the tips above to resolve the issue.
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