Good manners and etiquette aren't just for bridal teas and weddings.

Living in a neighborhood has a lot of advantages. There is always someone willing keep an eye on your house when you are away, you can find like-minded gardeners who are happy to share landscape ideas and pass-along plants and, most importantly, there is the opportunity to develop deep and lasting friendships with the families on your street. There are also many responsibilities that come with living in a neighborhood. Keeping those relationships positive requires respect and concern for your neighbors and their property. Yard etiquette goes beyond the rules and regulations that might be set forth by your Homeowner's Association. In fact, most of it comes down to good manners and neighborly etiquette.

Respect Property Lines

This is an essential part of being a good neighbor. Be sure to prune your vines, shrubs, and trees so that they don't encroach on your neighbor's space. Your neighbor may not mind your lovely Peggy Martin rose flowing over the fence and into their yard, but that fast-growing, often invasive wisteria is another matter. Also, be proactive and remove any damaged or diseased tree branches before the next storm takes them out along with your neighbor's window.

Keep Your Space Tidy

When your neighbors drive through the neighborhood or take strolls along the sidewalks, they might be concerned to find an eyesore in their midst. In addition to keeping the lawn trimmed and tidy, be sure to pick up children's toys and equipment that might be lying around. When a yard is ignored or neglected it can quickly become overgrown and messy, which soon becomes a nuisance for neighbors. Regular maintenance will help you avoid this fate.

Clean Up After Your Mower

Many homeowners use a bag when cutting their grass, but others like to leave the grass clippings on their lawn. Do not allow the grass clippings to blow onto your neighbor's driveway or into the street. Use a leaf blower or broom to sweep them up. If you use a side-shooting mower, aim the discharge away from the neighbor's property. The same courtesy applies to using a leaf blower: Be sure to blow away from your neighbor's property and bag up the litter.

Don’t Be a Noisy Early Bird

Many of us like to take advantage of every single minute of the weekends and we rush outside to crank up the lawn mowers and weed-whackers before the rest of the neighborhood has even tumbled out of bed. Just because you have before-dawn work ethic doesn't mean everyone else does too. It's important to be considerate when powering up your power tools on the weekends and wait until at least 9 a.m.

Don't Disrupt the Evening Hours Either

The same goes for late-night yard work. Even if you've fired up your headlamp or have floodlights illuminating the way, it's best to avoid noisy yard work in the evening hours. You never know when your neighbor has just gotten a newborn to sleep or is desperately trying to count sheep after a long shift. That's why it's best to keep your noisier activities, like mowing and edging, to the daytime.

Don’t Spoil the Neighbor’s Cookout

Do you see the neighbor's gearing up for a cookout or pool party? Maybe now is not a good time to crank up your riding tractor or spread something odorous in your garden. I know what you're thinking–you really need to get your work done. But be a good neighbor, let the folks enjoy the party, and move on to another project for the afternoon–the garden fertilizer can wait until tomorrow.

Spray Weeds, Not Your Neighbors

Instead of spraying pesticides and harmful chemicals, more and more homeowners are opting to keep a natural yard, choosing to provide food sources and living environments for birds, butterflies, bees, and other valuable insects. If you must use weed killers, do it on a day when there is no wind because the spray can carry over distances and kill your neighbor's flower garden. Be mindful that the toxic substances you spray on plants or put in the ground don't always stop at your property line. They can easily travel into other yards and water sources, harming beneficial insects and neighborhood pets.

Communicate About Big Projects

It's good manners to let your neighbors know when you're planning major work on your house or yard. If there is machinery coming in to take down trees between your properties or put up decking in your back garden, let your neighbors know so that they can be prepared for the noise that this sort of work brings. Communicating about this will allow them to make any necessary arrangements for potential disruptions to their day.

Control Your Pets (and Children)

If you want to quickly create an inharmonious environment between you and your neighbor, just let your dog run into her yard, dig up her petunias and then leave his calling card on her front porch. Be a good neighbor and keep your pets enclosed so they don't run loose. You know that your 120-pound German Shepherd is really a sweetheart that just wants to play, but it's essential to be considerate to everyone (including your pet) and keep him contained on a leash or behind a fence. The same goes for children–don't let them run loose and play in someone else's yard without permission.

Encourage Your Guests To Follow the Rules Too

Everyone expects to have guests over for backyard barbecues and other celebrations throughout the year, but annoyance between neighbors can arise when guests decide to jump the curbing and park in yards that are not yours. This can result in muddy ruts in the grass, trampled flower beds, and broken sprinkler heads. If you're worried about this, send a quick reminder to guests encouraging them to park on the street and to avoid neighbors' carefully maintained lawns.