Bad news and a garden move...:(

Mindyw3(5)April 21, 2014

I live in a very suburban area of Omaha. Mostly populated by retirees. Last year I watched helplessly as a 3 foot swath of my veggie garden, sunflowers and forsythias died down after a neighbor sprayed "something" OVER their 6' foot tall wooden fence (no gaps, no accident). And then watched a butternut squash vine brown and die back conmpletely, nothing else was harmed, but the vine was poking through a neighbors fence. I had a panic attack after my boys ate an ENTIRE WATERMELON that was in the spray area and then had the epiphany that it had been sprayed. Calls to the pediatrician, the whole nine.

Well, today I just witnessed my back neighbor, the one who sprayed the squash last year, literally douse the fence line with herbicide. There are very few weeds growing there. Like a handful in the 35 feet of fence. He soaked it!!! He even sprayed his own veggie area which butts up against mine.

I have a 3 and 5 year old who are used to running out and picking whatever and munching it. I feel completely uncomfortable feeding them the veggiesI spend so much time, effort, and money growing now.

SO, I've decided to move all of the beds to the "interior" of the yard now, which gets much less sun. I don't have any idea how they will do. BUt this just has me so upset. I was absolutely livid last year when I realized the couple with the pool had actually come over the fence, which is solid wood, and sprayed my yard including my cucumbers, zucchinis and squash. They killed a forsythis bush fo rchrists sake! 2 feet from a grape vine no less, which is looking pretty sad this spring. I also moved that garden over but MUCH less sun. May not even produce. Those same neighbors came onto the property a few years ago and trampled my srtichokes claiming my dirt was rotting their fence. THey shoveled it out and then my engineer boyfriend said they were idiots because actually the dirt preserves the wood....

I feel at this point it is impossible to grow food chemical free for your little ones and family.. Absolutely impossible. At least the one neighbor will knock my doors I have time to cover my beds with plastic. It sickens me..

So, we've lost all the spring crops except the brassica bed. the only high note, my little ones sat and ate an entire plate of radishes, including the greens tonight. How many kids do that? Especially ones that live in the busy suburbs of a metropolitan area?

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A photo to prove I don't have some weedy overgrown garden bordering his fence. Its weed fabric'd and mulched. Absolutely ridiculous. THe boys will be so sad that there won't be any peas this year. That's their favorite but unfortunately right where he sprayed.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 1:57AM
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You may guess my profession when I say this, but, you could sue. Likely you have small claims court where you are (I know NOTHING about the middle of the country!), so you wouldn't even have to hire one of my ilk for it.
You might consider putting up No Trespassing signs as well, to give notice that they're not welcome on your property without your permission.
I feel sad for your kids. Peas are my absolute favourite, too!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 2:07AM
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Thank you ariel. Trust me. Ive considered it. THe sad thing is, the neighbor who sprayed is a senior environmental engineer with Army Corps of Engineers. Even offered me a job. My bachelors is in environmental studies. I'm starting a masters of community and regional planning in January! Considered getting my juris doctortate. But tough with the boys.

I have looked into the legality and was told i'd have to have video. Which I could have gotten today. But since he didn't ACTUALLY cross onto my property I'd have a much tougher burden of proof.

I just don't understand people. Last year I didn't know it had happened until I saw browning all over. Had already fed my boys things that had likely been sprayed days before. I think spraying someones edibles should be assault. If I poured any of those chemicals in their glass of water or walked intheir house and sprayed inside their fridge? Ya, pretty sure that would be criminal.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 2:23AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Who does the chainlink fence belong to? Could you put something on/in front of it to make it less permeable? Like bamboo matting or something? Even a temporary (summertime) fabric windbreak? Or put up your own solid fence inside it?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:39AM
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Doesn't matter who a neighbor is, they can still be served a no-trespass warrant. First you have to know where your boundaries are (if you don't have clear evidence of the boundaries, like a survey, it can easily devolve into a legal dispute), then post them, then if they trespass again the sheriff has to serve a warrant on them. I had to post in a similar neighbor situation, but I didn't have to proceed to serving the warrant.

Some people simply will not observe other people's rights unless they think there will be repercussions. An unfortunate reality.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 7:29AM
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Thanks for the pic. I was wondering how so many neighbors can access your yard. With a chainlink fence, I don't even see how dirt is an issue.

And spraying -- yea unfortunately whatever they spray can just waft over to your side, even if they didn't physically come to your yard.

You could put in a wood fence if you like that area but it might change your sun times just a little bit.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:47AM
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Generally, in small claims court, you wouldn't need a video. The rules tend to be a bit more informal.

Whatever you do, I hope this sort of thing never happens to you again. Your neighbours are jerks!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:49AM
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Sounds like vandalism to me... I'm so sorry this is happening to you!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 11:24AM
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How about a 6 or 7 (or 8?) foot tall wooden privacy fence, plus no trespassing signs. I know, the fence is expensive. But divide it by the number of years you plan to stay there, and maybe the cost will seem worthwhile? For peace of mind, and peas, if nothing else.

I wonder if police, called on the non emergency line, will go with you to speak to the neighbors? So it is obvious that they are not operating in secrecy?

So sorry this has happened.
I hope you find a solution that brings you peace.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 12:59PM
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I know this sounds simplistic but have you talked to your neighbors about the effect their actions are having on your yard? Some people are clueless about the repercussions of their actions.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 1:15PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I don't think Robert Frost had to deal with herbicide damage, but he did note "good fences make good neighbors". Of course, before you out up a giant fence, you could try asking the neighbor if he realizes he's killing your vegetable garden and if he does, why is he doing it?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 2:41PM
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centexan254 zone 8 Temple, Tx

It would help to know if you are renting, or if you own the home. If you own the home then a privacy fence would be a great investment to make. If you are renting then a lot would depend on your land lord.

Also note that you need to keep a way for workers to access the pedistals in the corner of the fence. Also do not plant things that will cover them up.

For the neighbor issues make sure what you grow is well inside your side of the fence. This may mean you will have to make trellises. Try to keep them at least 10 feet inside of the fence. Then if neighbors cross into your yard you will have to deal with that. The ways of doing so vary greatly. I am an advocate of the way that keeps peace when possible.

I have moved twice in my life due to butt head neighbors. I hated moving. The peace afterwards made things a lot better though.

This post was edited by centexan254 on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 20:50

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:47PM
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This makes me sad and angry. I have no clue about the law and will not offer you any advice apart from saying that you shouldn't take this lying down. The neighbours are bullies, and bullies love those who don't fight back.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

If you can't put up a fence around your yard, can you make a plastic one around the edges of your raised beds? Posts attached to the outer edge with the plastic attached or posts around the entire outer edge of the garden area with the plastic. Think green house with out a top.

I would use some "friendly neighbor howdy time" and apologize to all the neighbors individually that border your yard that you had to add the plastic and install that game camera (they don't need to know you don't have one) because "someone" is spraying herbicides and killing your veggies and poisoning your children and the police want photographic evidence to proceed...... Bet suddenly a neighbor has a couple of extra weeds. You don't need to point fingers at who is spraying but bet they think about it in the future

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:01PM
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Kippy: lol!

Centexan: I rent and the existing garden is from the fence line inward about 6 feet so as I am doing now, moving the entire garden. Putting in a perennial border along that fence as a buffer has been a thought but expensive for a home I rent. The land lords are cheap and the actual homeowner is cheaper. He actually said he will not pay for anything he is not legally obligated to. I've been here 4 yrs and paid 90% of repairs and there was zero landscaping and lots of saplings around the foundation. The neighbors told me the people here before mowed once a month and that was it. Any weeds there are were existing and cut in half easily since I've been here. Funny thing is I said something to a neighbor about someone putting stump killer in the cherry the landlord cut down last year and no one seemed to know who did it, some even went so far as to say "oh ya I don't use chemicals either". Funny.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:29PM
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I've got about half of the beds moved btw. The neighbor nearest them now doesn't spray anything and she's been there for 4 yrs too. Hopefully this will at least prevent direct spraying of plants My ex is also going to come thin out the maple that shades this area in the afternoon so hopefully that will help as well.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:42PM
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I suspect a renter has the same rights to security from trespass as an owner. If the neighbor is friendly with the landlord then you'll probably get no help from them, but you pay rent so you have property rights.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:33AM
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Bad landlord and bad neighbors? Have you considered moving?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Yeah, I'd assumed you were the owner. Could this be a nudge to move -- and buy something???

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:41AM
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slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

maybe once you get some yummy things growing, make little gifts and give them to the neighbors - once they're munching on peas or strawberries maybe they won't want to spray poison on them anymore? ;) tactical kindness?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 1:22PM
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No chance of buying. I'll actually be moving about an hour away in January for my masters program but my mother will keep the house and my 5 yr old so he doesn't have to switch schools. I'm not sure what will happen after grad school, but I WAS enjoying what I have now.

Thanks for all the advice and kind words. Heres hoping that's the last spraying incident this season.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 2:40PM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

You could always file a complaint with the city to prevent your neighbor from doing it again. Check the city's website, and I bet you'll find a number to call.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:38PM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Wow that is really infuriating. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it. I would be slapping up security cameras (they aren't very expensive) and taking videos to the cops. Then I'd be suing in small claims, including the cost of the cameras.

Hopefully, your next house will provide you with a better group of neighbors.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 12:05AM
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