Bad neighbors, please help!!!

forensicmomJuly 28, 2011

I'm not sure where to post this but I need some help. I'm a master gardner and take pride in my yard. A young couple (with no kids) moved in next door two years ago and refuse to take care of their 1 acre yard. They have a battery operated robot thing that's supposed to cut their grass but it just makes a jog saw pattern in small spots. The flower beds are completely overrun and we've had more weeds, insects and disease in the past two years then ever before. I called the county on them twice last year and after a few weeks, they cut the grass but never the weeds. They grow through my fence all the time and start taking over my plants.

I've tried talking with them but they won't talk. They ignore us when we try to say something.

What else can I do? Is it bad if I spray my entire fence area with Roundup?

Here's some pictures I took this morning. The driveway with the basketball net is mine.

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It's always a pain to have bad neighbors, but there is only one certain's their property and they can do what they want with it. It's not their problem that you are a master gardener and don't like it. If they don't want, or have the time, to keep up a nice yard, it's their business, not yours. Their flower beds are just that...THEIRS. Not yours.

Spray the fence area with Round-up if you want to. Just be sure to stay on your side of the property line.

Either ignore it. Or offer to cut the weeds yourself. At least they are't dumping garbage out the back door.

From their point of view, they may consider your talking about THEIR yard, an invasion of their property rights. They may consider YOU a bad annoying neighbor. Think about it from their point of view.

This post may have seemed harsh to you, but you need to understand that their property is theirs and yours is yours. They have no right to say what you do with yours and you don't have the right to insist that they do what you want.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 11:28AM
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It is sad but like Agnes said, there's not much you can do other than have them meet the minimal code requirements. It is better than junk cars or a poor animal who is chained to a doghouse without food or water. The alternative of course is what many folks do and that is to seek homes in communities with HOAs and even then it's sometimes not enforced. There is home up the road from us toward town with lots with some some acreage and one of them is evidently in foreclosure. It's situated amid manicured lawns and well-kept houses. I feel for the parties next door on both sides because I don't think anyone feels it's their duty to keep the turf under control and you can't just trespass over there to do it yourself.

I have no solutions.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 1:44PM
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jazmynsmom(Z5 Madison-ish)

Erect a taller, non-see-through fence, and plant tall things against it. Perhaps an arbor vitae (or other type of 4-season) hedge is in order? You will not change them, so change your focus.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 2:03PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

I got permission to trim the privet between us and the neighbors, who also do very little and very very rarely talk. The sidewalk is never weeded, edged maybe once every two years, mowed at the last possible moment. What I found out when I finally cornnered the lady was that they are all very very busy, she hates outside work and spouse works two jobs, and three kids are in every activity under the son. Dh thinks I am nuts to do, I am just glad to have it trimmed.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 7:28PM
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jazmynsmom - We thought about the fence but we would still have the problem with their weeds coming through the fence.

Agnespuffin - I understand that it's their property but when THEIR weeds are coming through MY fence and killing my plants, it becomes MY problem. Also, we've an extremeley large amount of snakes, rodents, insects, disease and weeds in the past two years. It's not safe for my kids to be in the yard sometimes b/c of the animals that are living in their "wildlife" sanctuary.

tibs - I would offer to help them with things but they won't talk to us. They're in their early 30's, no visible health problems and NO kids, so they should be able to take care of their own yard.

I don't expect it to be perfect but 6' tall weeds is a little uncalled for.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:48PM
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Yes, spray your fence and the weeds as they come onto your side. As Puffy says, just stay on your own side.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 1:33AM
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Legally, you are required to stay on your own side. Even if you only "reach over" their fence, boundaries, and cut, it's illegal. Totally on your side can you trim and cut away.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 8:35AM
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You said that the weeds come through the fence and are killing your plants??? That sounds more like vines than weeds.

Either way, they need to be cut back as they come through the fence. You really shouldn't allow them to reach your plantings. As a Master Gardener, you should know that. It's easier to trim a little than wait until you have to trim a lot.

The first frost will kill weeds. If they are vines or small bushes, make sure that when you spray Round-Up that you don't spray them. Killing the roots, as they would be on the other side is the fence would be illegal.

I am sure that just about every one here feels for you. Bad neighbors are hard to bear. But they do have legal rights. That's the thing that you have to live with.

The house looks as if this is a fairly new development. If so, your problem with snakes and small animals is to be expected. They leave the area when construction is going on and return when the area gets quiet again. I don't think you can blame all of them on your neighbors. You would probably have some even if the other yard was well kept.

Check to see if your area has dangerous snakes. If not, don't worry too much, they eat insects.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 9:53AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

In my community, and in all other locations where I've lived, there are ordinances that do not allow this type of weed overgrowth. It's not a matter of HOA, but of the City's landscape ordinances. If these folks are not interested in taking minimal care of their property, then they should not have moved into that location.

Rodents are the major problem and of course, the snakes will follow the rodents.

We had neighbors much like this at one time. We could sit on our back patio and watch the rats frolic, I kid you not. A couple of phone calls to the proper authorities and the big, strapping teenagers that lived there began taking turns with the mower.

If I were you, I'd keep calling the county and complaining about the rodents! Perhaps they will decide to hire someone to take care of the yard.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:20PM
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The thing is these communities are often not in cities and there are no ordinances to keep, other than complaining to county officials and they don't put weed control in new developments high on their list of priorities. It may not even be in a development, as some country acreage ends up in small lots purchased onesie-twosies by someone wanting to build. It may even be in a township where there is no zoning. Mine is in such a township and I like it like that because it gives property owners latitude in doing as they wish in just about everything but installing a septic or hooking on to utilities. We are fortunate to have like-minded families in the farms and homes scattered here and there who care about property values and are considerate.........but there are no guarantees that if one sells the next occupant would have the same perspective. I would have absolutely no recourse to complain someone up the road isn't mowing.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:08PM
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I believe, from lengthy threads here at GW, and elsewhere on the web, various people have over the years challenged local 'weed ordinances' and they have been successful on, I believe, constitutional grounds.

It's their property - they have as much right to grow weeds as you do to cultivate flowers.

Did you try and discuss it with them before you 'called the county on them'? Because, if not, then I think it may be too late to rebuild any kind of co-operation: at this point, they may regard you as the 'bad neighbour'.

I know, as a gardener, how frustrating it must be, but it's their land. And maybe they WANT to encourage wildlife: plenty of people in my neighbourhood allow parts of their property to grow wild, as both habitat and feeding station for wildlife of all kinds. Rats will not come where there's just weeds: they'll come in if there's trash, or access to other food sources, but weeds and long grass won't do it. Otherwise every meadow would be full of them.

If you decide to spray, might I suggest you put a polite note in their mailbox, explaining that you are only spraying along your side of the property line, and are not spraying anything on their side. It could go a long way to avoiding any potential misunderstanding, when clearly things are tense already.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:36PM
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Luckily, there IS a law in our area and I have contacted the county, who will give them a week or so to take care of the problem. Unfortunately, they ONLY clean up when I call and complain. I was trying not to have to call and hoping they would get the hint from the authorities.

Unfortunately, they have lot of invasive vines (kudzu and porcelain berry) that grow VERY fast. I cut them every few days b/c they keep attaching to my plants through the fence but it's hard to do it all the time with 4 small children here.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:30PM
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At least the county will help now and then. That's the good news. The bad news is that if they don't care what you think or what the place looks like, they aren't going to improve.

Does the county have any sort of fine for repeated disregards for the restrictions?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Having been through something similar, I can relate. I sprayed round up on the property line, but dang it, somehow the breeze carried it over a bit and I did have a slight case of the shakes that day. And since the folks never cultivate their weeds, they never even noticed!

So my advise is to spray at the property line but watch the wind direction...if you get my drift. :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 9:12AM
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I've never been in your situation, but I have neighbors that seem to like to use their back yard as a dump.

However, I do have a little advice about the vines. You won't get rid of them until the root is dead. Since you can't dig the root, you'll need another route.

I have found that Ortho-Weed-B-Gon is better for this. Don't cut the vines back, just snip the vines growing tip and paint (or spray) as many of the the leaves as you can with a double strength solution. This will stunt the growth and take the stuff down to the roots. You may have to do this several times, but the root will eventually die.

I have killed poison ivy with one treatment, wisteria and honeysuckle will take several applications as the roots are extensive and shoots will keep coming up from the newer root systems. I suspect that kudzu will be a similar problem.

In fact, I suspect that merely cutting the vines back encourages new growth. It doesn't do anything about the root system. You have to kill the main root. Even if you could dig it, it would be difficult to get it all.

By treating the leaves, you will at least stunt the new growth on your side of the fence.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 1:28PM
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