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

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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 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 is also a responsibility that comes with living in a neighborhood that requires respect and concern for your neighbor and his/her property. It goes beyond the rules and regulations set forth by your friendly Homeowner’s Association and comes down to simple manners and neighborly etiquette.

Respect Property Lines

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 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.

Clean Up After Your Mower

Many homeowners use a bag when cutting their grass, but others like to leave the grass clippings on their yard. 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 – 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 weedwhackers before the rest of the neighborhood has even tumbled out of bed. Just because you have a farmer’s work ethic doesn’t mean everyone else does. Show manners and be considerate when powering up your power tools on the weekends and wait until at least 10am.

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 that odorous cow manure in your garden. I know what you are 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, or the spray might carry 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 but travel into play yards and water sources, harming beneficial insects, neighborhood pets, and even children.

Control your Pets (and Children)

If you want to quickly create an unharmonious 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 lb. German Shepherd is really a sweetheart that just wants to play but be considerate to everyone (including your pet) and keep him contained behind a fence. The same goes for children – don’t let them run loose and play in someone else’s yard without permission.