Yard Maintenance Etiquette

It's called a rake.

In the flurry of yard clean up, pruning and other garden maintenance of the season it seems prudent to discuss some simple rules of etiquette that will improve your relationships with your neighbors year round. The closer your house is to your neighbor’s house the more important it is that you observe these rules.

  • “The planting of an English Laurel hedge is an act of aggression against one’s neighbor – and against oneself as well.” -George Schenk, The Complete Shade Gardener.

If the hedge is on your property you are responsible for maintaining it in a way that doesn’t allow it to encroach on your neighbor’s space. This means twice yearly trimming of the entire hedge, not just “your side”. If your neighbors yard is lower than yours (as in many hilly neighborhoods) consider this when deciding to grow a 10 foot high hedge. Does this mean your neighbors have a 15 foot wall of earth and hedge on their property line as a result? If so, please clip the hedge to a more reasonable height while still maintaining your privacy.

  • Privacy lets everyone enjoy their yard more, and the combination of fences, plantings and/or retaining walls are better than hedges.

Consider ways to deal with privacy and erosion problems adjacent to the property line in conjunction with your neighbor. This will benefit both parties in the long run financially and psychologically.

  • Before hiring people to work in your yard set up a time to “audition” them. Be home when they are working in your yard for the first time.

That way maybe you will find out what your neighbors already know: you’re not getting what you’re paying for and the cursing, pollution, bad pruning, etc. is costing you not only money but the good will of those closest to you. Workers who arrive and spend most of their time verbally abusing each other create bad feelings.

  • Hire workers that use rakes and brooms, rather than leaf blowers. That includes people you hire to clean your gutters. Yes, people clean rain gutters with ladders and leaf blowers.

Leaf blowers cause air, noise and water pollution. The leaves are not blown into a pile for removal, they are blown into the street or onto neighboring properties. Blowing leaves into the street clogs storm drains and your neighbors are working double time to deal with the weekly debris left by whoever you hired. Using a rake and broom does not pollute and is actually just as fast as the blower if you keep up with it.

  • Mow and weed.

Seeds from overgrown grass and weeds travel to your neighbor’s yard and create unwanted grass and weeds. If you don’t believe me just ask them.

  • Please don’t have your house and yard sprayed with pesticide.

Children, pets, hummingbirds, butterflies and other things we all enjoy are ingesting it through the air and water. On a windy day in effect you will be spraying your neighbor’s property rather than your own. It is not necessary to spray or treat on a regular basis, but if there is a pest problem that is out of control any company worth their salt should be able to take care of that problem with one visit and treatment.

I started to write this post as a snarky and sarcastic rant but lately I’ve been feeling like there is a little too much of that in the world. Like my Grandma ‘Nez used to say “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I think part of what she meant was “Stop criticizing and complaining”, but more importantly “Have some tact and grace when you speak your mind”.

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