When landscape philosophies collide

sujiwan_gwMay 11, 2014

What do you do when a "let nature burgeon" approach from one neighbor affects "ordered designs" by another==and it is costly in terms of time/money to deal with it?

To preface, a common gravel alleyway historically runs behind houses in my neighborhood and ended past mine. I have a hedge row that follows it and past a point, it was allowed to grass over and no cars ever used that.

A developer drastically altered the landscape on the other side of the alley so that it is very steep and there are now houses where there was once a hill meadow. The neighbors at the end of the gravel area always liked the woodsy look and are non-maintenance sorts for the rear of their property anyway. They want to hide the view of the development. These naturalists would throw their leaves and branches on the other side of the alley until the developer got on their case when a new house was being built there. The graveled area alley access people blocked off the end of the alley with a mound of gravel and dirt, so the walkway from the grassed alley to the gravelled area is cut off unless one veers into the steep dropoff. And, all their leaves, sticks, branches are now heaped into the alleyway as well.

So, the alley doesn't actually belong to the "leafy compost makers" and they aren't maintaining it. Growing in this heap and around it are Canadian thistle, poke, junk trees like ailanthus and wild blackberries. Guess which things are invading *my* yard in a big way. I'm trying to landscape and have a roserie and butterfly garden along the alley and I'm constantly being plagued with this invasive stuff.

Problem is, for legal standing, they are not on my property line due to the weird lot layout by the developer. Everyone else around me uses landscaping/gardening services except for me and no one is touching this problem with a ten foot pole. The owners of the little triangle between me and the hump avoid it. No one is spraying/cutting to kill the thistle/brambles either.

There is no homeowner association that covers the alley dwellers as these are older houses. Apparently the city doesn't want to get involved code wise.

What does one do in landscape design when situations like this come up? Just figure the cost of fighting invasives from neighbors as a sunk cost?

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Though you've explained a lot, it is too time consuming and difficult to piece the layout together in one's mind without the benefit of having ever seen it. I suggest you back up with a camera and take a few good photos that show what things are and how they fit together.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Lily777 _8PNW(8PNW)

First, my sympathies. Second, my suggestion: I think you may find yourself getting fed up and start cleaning up that mess yourself. It's not a great option, but I think your back is up against a proverbial wall. I tried removing blackberries by digging them up, but I guess I didn't get all the roots, so they grew back. I've heard that you can apply chemicals to the stalks and that should kill them. It doesn't seem fair that you now have a huge project on your list, but I don't see an alternative. You'll be protecting your investment in your home.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:33AM
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So that I'm clear, is the pile o' festering crap on common land (alley) or on private property? I think Lily777 nails it, if no one else is willing to deal with this it's down to you, but there's a big difference to putting your shoulder to the wheel in the alley versus on someone else's property. I wouldn't go on their property without written permission detailing what you are and aren't allowed to do.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Yeah, it's common property being right in the alley. That's why I tried calling the city to find if they would spray the invasive stuff.
Before the development came in, the area on the other side of the alley where last house threw all their leafy stuff became full of ailanthus saplings and only there. At least when the developer did earthmoving, the trees were scraped off.

I mentioned that the alley is mowed starting just past this deadend hump. Developer put in swale with a drain there which now catches all the junk plants. What was well kept and grassy is difficult to maintain as mowing crews don't do anything. Apparently I get to do that to. It's so frustrating.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:56AM
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1) Have you tried to talk to the owners?
Possibly they would be willing to remove the stuff once you confront them. Either way, you must have their permission before going on their property.

2) When you speak to the city, there are several key word that might get their attention:
"attracting rodents"
"blocking access to thoroughfare"
"causing drainage problems"
Even if you have to fudge the truth- often it's the only way to get the city's attention.

3) Time for a camp fire...just kidding (not really:)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 7:46AM
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If I were in your shoes, and I didn't think they'd immediately go back to throwing crap in the alley, I'd just call someone like 123 Junk to come out and haul off the pile and be done with it. A couple hundred bucks versus trying to keep out the weeds, not to mention seething every time I go by?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:48AM
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