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When Neighbors' Lawns Go Bad

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Let's say you spend a lot of time and energy getting your yard in great shape. Your next-door neighbor, on the other hand, has adopted a more "natural" approach. You try to look the other way as weeds take over his "lawn," but at some point, the vermin living in the jungle of his yard and the seeds from the weeds spreading over to your property start to get to you. So what should you do?

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Confronting your neighbors about anything, from their roaming dog to their lousy lawn care, is tricky. No one wants a next-door enemy. Here are a few tips for carefully navigating that tricky social territory.

Be Friendly

Showing up on your neighbor's doorstep with a serious face and the line "we have to talk" is a surefire way to alienate. Try to catch your neighbor when he's in his yard and exchange a few pleasantries before saying anything abLut lawn care (or lack thereof).

Be Smooth

Making a comment or two, amidst your exchange of pleasantries, about your yard and all the work you've been doing can be a great way to ease into a conversation. ("Yeah, nose to the grindstone, trying to tackle my weed problem! Actually, Roy, I'm having the hardest time along the property line")

Offer Help

You may dream that with a little nudge your neighbor will suddenly transform into you, discover the joys of lawn care, and start keeping a lovely yard. How to break the bad news? Hm. Here goes. It's not happening! So, your best strategy may be to take on some of the work yourself, unfair though it may seem. ("Hey Roy, I'm just getting ready to spray my yard for weeds. If you want to chip in for some herbicide I could spray yours while I'm at it.") You stand a good chance of being taken up on your offer.

Potentially uncomfortable conversations with your neighbors always require finesse. Conversation about rogue lawn care are no different. But with a smile, a casual mention of the yard, and perhaps even an offer to pitch in, you just may get somewhere with that weed patch next door.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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