I bought my house because it was my childhood house. When I bought it, the landscaping around it was done just to match things from hgtv, nothing really useful, just something to look at. The grass was made to look like a golf course with the use of lots of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. There was automatic irrigation going everywhere and a stunted dying maple tree in the front yard. The north side of the house had lilacs, that got powdery mildew every summer. There was an above ground pool in the back yard with a wraparound deck. The dirt (clay) dug out from installing the pool was piled up and landscaped with lava rock, lots of drip irrigation, and more plants that were there just to look at. There was a nice tulip poplar shade tree that I planted as a kid and a silver maple that I also planted as a kid. There was a stacked wood pile that ran along the back fence for the fireplace in my house. My next door neighbor moved in a few years before I had moved out of that house. Other neighbors moved while I didn't live there. The neighbors across the street consider themselves "upper middle class" and look down on everybody. An elderly couple down the street adopted their delinquit daughters little girl, and she likes to wander into peoples garages/sheds if they are left open. I have no clue why. One time i was working on my motorcycle with the garage door more than half closed and she just came right under the door and started asking me questions about what i was doing, then when i gave her a bewildered look, took off. A neighbor up the street with a bunch of kids is a single mom. Her husband is in jail for something to do with stealing money and sexual misconduct with their teenage daughter, who has since been taken away from the parents. It's not the nice, quiet, peaceful place I remember from my childhood.
When I first moved in, the next door neighbor asked if he could have a bench, bird bath, plants, and landscaping boulders from my back yard. Being neighborly I said sure and let him have stuff. My first talk with my stuck up "upper middle class" neighbor was him complaining that i didnt pick up my newspaper the day it was tossed in my yard. His teenage son started throwing them on my roof if i didnt grab them as soon as i got home after work. After seeing the water and electric bills for a few months, I got rid of all of the accent lights in bushes, and pulled out all of the irrigation. I talked to my next door neighbor back then, and he told me he was sure that it was a huge waste of money and again asked for any of the plants I didn't want. Since some of them on the mound were roasting in their lava rock mulch, I helped him dig a lot of them up and let him plant them around his house. He also complained that my wood pile was a termite concern and asked that i get rid of the third of the pile nearest his yard, so i did. I wanted to get a bee hive, but was told that I had to get my immediate neighbor's permission. He's afraid of snakes, rodents, and anything that can sting or bite, so I never brought it up to him.
My tulip poplar was hit with lightning and die.d When I was climbing it and cutting down branches by hand, my neighbor offered to get a chainsaw from a friend at work and help me. He never did. Luckily that wasn't needed as the tree was still fairly thin and the wood was soft. I completely cut it up and stacked it on the pile farthest from his property line. Next I set up three raised garden beds in the back yard along his fence line, got rabbits, and started composting. The rabbit hutches are across the yard from him, but facing his yard. Every time i planted something, or was doing anything in my yard, he always questioned what i was doing. He wanted to know why I had rabbits, why I bred them, where the grown offspring went, and why I was so "obsessed" with growing food in my yard. At first i was fine with answering him, but hes got this mentality that if its not what he would do, its stupid to do.
I had to replace the pool liner that year. The maple roots were growing all through the sand under the pool and poking holes in the liner. After that one part after another started going out with the pool, and with all the designed obsoletism of our society, parts were impossible to find so I had to keep getting new things for it instead of repairing old things. After two years, I was done with the pool and its chemicals, so I left it closed through the summer. Mr next door started complaining that a closed pool was an eye sore, mosquito breeding ground, and snake attractant and wanted me to either take it down or open it and use it. I told him that I was planning on taking it down in the fall anyways so he offered to help me on his next off day. I was glad for the help so I fully drained the pool. He never helped. After a week of waiting, I just rolled up the extremely heavy steel pool side and left it where the pool was. I cut up the pool liner and threw it away in the trash over the coarse of last winter (it was big, thick, and very heavy). The next time I talked to him, which was this spring, he complained about my landscaping. I had replaced the lilacs with gooseberries and currants, replaced the dying front yard maple with two pear trees, planted apple trees on the other side of the driveway, and two plums on the south side of my house. Most of the former landscaping had either grown better root systems, or died and been removed. I have two rabbit hutches, three compost bins, and I removed all of the lava rock from the landscaping. My yard hasn't had any pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers in years. Because of that, I get dandelions as spring flowers, followed by clover and black medic as summer and fall flowers. I think that looks better than a sterile grass lawn. I don't water my lawn, everyone else does on the street. Because my yard is a polyculture of adapted pioneers and grass, it doesn't turn brown. You'd think that would make people happy. His complaint is that my grass is now just weeds. I told him that I wanted plants, not grass, and pointed out that my yard is never brown and I don't waste water or fertilizers on it. He scalps his lawn when he mows and by August every year it's brown and dead. This spring he decided that he was going to be super friendly and offer to help me with my yard since he's planning on moving "soon" and thinks my property is hindering his chances of selling. I told him I didn't need help and haven't talked to him since. Besides, the previous offerings of help ended up being him sitting inside watching tv. He burnt his grass in huge patches this year trying to keep it green with fertilizers applied in June and July. Most of his landscaping is composed of plants from me when I bought the house anyways, plants I wish I'd kept or composted. This spring I planted some cherry trees, and a mulberry, which all died, I think due to too much rain. I didn't plant my annual garden this year and I'm waiting until my fall vacation to grade my backyard by hand and turn my veggie garden into a tree guild. In the spring I spread grass seed over that area but it didn't take, so I let weeds take over, which I mow with the rest of the yard so they don't get tall or unsightly.
This spring, I dug a swale around the north side of my house to the east side of the house. It was 3 feet deep and I filled it with the lava rock from the backyard, covered that in white river gravel, then placed paved stepping stones on top of that. The north side of my house gets all of the runoff from mr next door's down spouts. This way, I catch the water that would normally keep the ground soggy and encourage mildew, and deliver it to the top of the slope of my front yard where it can gravity water my pear trees through capillary action. The path ends by the front door. I planted two pawpaws and two elderberries on the north side of the house along the swale, since both like/tolerate moisture and shaded, north facing areas. Mr next door commented that I was digging too deep for a path when I was doing this. I didn't have the patience to explain to him that I was stacking functions and just said that I liked digging in that area.
This year, one of my pears and one of my plums set fruit. Since the neighborhood kids seem to have no parental watch and like to pester me with questions about everything, I decided to teach them about what I was doing. They showed more interest in what I had to say than their parents and genuinely listened without being judgmental. I told them they could play in my front yard as long as they didn't mess with anything but asked them to stay out of my back yard and not damage or take any parts of my plants. I told them what each of my trees were, what each flower was, what each plant did to benefit my yard in my eyes, and explained that my motorcycle wasn't my toy (which I guess their parents think) but a way to save gas and money. Soon I start finding candy wrappers, toys, and damaged plants in my back yard. The place I told them not to go. One time last year, I had one of my litters of rabbits all running loose in my back yard. At first I thought it was a freak accident. Maybe I didn't close the cage door and latch it the night before? Maybe they all ran around and jarred the cage enough that it opened? Well, this year I've had my hutches opened up hit and miss. The back yard is fenced and my rabbits are tame, but it gets annoying catching one or two every couple of weeks. One time I caught one of mrs single mom's kids in my back yard. I asked him what he was doing and he said that his mom told him he could go anywhere in my yard whenever he wanted. I talked to her and she said that if I'm being bothered by him, to just tell him to go home and he will. So basically if I happen to catch him messing around in my yard, I can tell him to go home. What about when I'm at work or not watching my back yard? It's my job to moderate what her 5 year old does when he climbs the fence and trespasses in my backyard after I've asked him not to? I've since caught a few other kids hopping the fince into my back yard.
The final straw was last night. I had 5 plums on my tree. It's only been in the ground for two years and I was looking forward to those 5 plums. The neighborhood kids asked about the little green plums in late spring. I explained that they were flowers that were turning into fruit and that in late july or early August I would be able to eat them. They asked about the apple trees and I told them that they wouldn't fruit until at least next year. Well, I notice one of the 5 plums goes missing when they are all green but almost full sized. I ahrugged it off. I had 4 left. Then, when they first started to color up, I found a half eaten plum laying in my driveway. Last week, three of my hanging rabbit cages had all of their support wires cut. One rabbit got out, the other two were still contained. I moved the one that got out into the house because her cage is so bowed from hitting the ground. Then yesterday, I got home and all three of my fully ripe plums were gone. I'm getting really tired of my neighbors, their holier than thou attitudes, and their spoiled brat little kids.
Sounds like a bummer that things have changed in the neighborhood you grew up in. In different ways, I think we all could tell the same story.
Seems like you take to much bs from your neighbor. Put him in his place when he tries to belittle you and I bet things change. Bullies do their thing if they think they can do it with impunity. Stand up for yourself and your yard management. Be confident in the good work you are doing, not insecure about his judgements.
Kids in suburbia are little devils. That hasnt changed since my childhood. Get a big dog, that'll change their trespassing ways. Maybe try to have a hair more compassion for your single mom neighbor, I bet her hands are mighty full. Slandering her incarcerated husband online is a little below the belt, IMHO. All in all, your neighborhood sounds like modern America. Could be a lot lot worse.
I live out in the country now, far from my much changed childhood neighborhood. My neighbors are all real people, with real virtues and flaws. I could describe either situation, but I think it is healthiest for my happiness to view people as positively and compassionately as possible. Folks burn trash, drink too much, burn their pastures, look down on my permaculture, etc, etc, etc. Not my focus. I dont let them dump their trash, physical or emotional, on me. I am glad that other people are as human and as flawed as I am. Best to be focused on the man in the mirror.
Sorry to hear of your trevails. This is a great site for sharing about permaculture, please do.
The game camera is a good idea - it could be only one kid causing all the mischief, and it would be a shame to harm your relationship with the other neighborhood kids who may be being respectful and learning from you, over this vandalism. You may also want to put up some signs clearly stating in few words that the back yard is off limits, and to not handle the rabbits unless you are present.
Peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, etc. can be grown from pits and evidently come pretty true to the parent, so if fruit thieving is an issue, maybe gather some pits and plastic containers and get the kids started with their own fruit trees. Then they may understand the value of YOU getting to taste the first fruits of YOUR tree that you've labored over and anticipated. And really, you're just giving them some trash, fruit pits and used containers, LOL! I've seen online instructions where you open the shell to extract the kernel to skip cold stratification - they say the kernel will usually sprout within a few weeks then. Not to mention one good way to convert adults is to get to them through their kids - so that may lessen the tension between you and the (adult) neighbors.
I agree with all the above posters Daniel. Don't let them ruin YOUR movie! You are the director here, not them so show them. Tell them how you feel.
Your post sounds heart wrecking and i'm sorry you had to go through such a thing
On our journey through life, at some point we realize some facts of life, and of all the ones that I have learned is that anything that matters to us has the ability to upset us. But we can be trusting and open our hearts to others and it feels so good to do so. We want to believe others will share our values. And just as the potential for respect is there so is the potential for betrayal and disrespect. We can not know for certain which one of those will come our way so we take our chances anyway. It is the only way to learn. It's Harsh, I know. But it's YOUR movie Don't let them ruin YOUR movie! You are the director here, not them so show them. Tell them how you feel.
I agree with the"big dog" idea. The most important part would be "not" letting the neighbor kids interact with the dog. Tell them that it's a mean dog even if it's not true. Try to not let them know the dogs name. If you let anybody into your back yard, put the dog in the house first. The dog will know that "you"re OK in the yard but not anybody else.
I would also take a different approach to the neighbors. It seems you are trying to make "everybody" happy at your own expense. You are "NOT" going to make everybody happy. It's just a fact of life. Before you agree or disagree with someones desires you need to decide if it will benefit or hurt "you" first. If you're not sure, tell them you'll think about it and get back with them. If a neighbor says he'll help with something, set an exact date and time that it will happen and if they don't show up then ask why. I definitely would not have moved the wood pile. Your neighbor needs to accept that you will do things that he doesn't agree with and Vice- Versa You mentioned that your neighbor burned his lawn with fertilizers. Is that a possible source of contamination for your property? You're not happy with some of the things that your neighbors do, it's OK if they're not happy with some of the things that you do. Do what's right and be content with that.
You can die on the bleachers or you can die on the playing field, but you can't get out of life alive
A totally unproductive, but potentially amusing solution may be to start requesting stuff you know they won't do, but are within your value system.
'Hey, could you maybe consider pulling that grass? It looks like you light it on fire in August. There has to be a better way.'
'I can help you harvest if you want to start feeding your family from your dirt like real men used to.'
'You know what would be great, if you would let those dandelions repair your soil so you didn't have to pump it full of plant steroids.'
I don't have any better suggestions for keeping kids out of your back yard and screwing with your animals, which to me is the really messed up part of the whole thing. Maybe do like some do with deer, do something amusing with your front yard to distract the shenaniganizers from the back. Good luck.
I am 99% sure that while you are away for the weekend waiting for the judge to let you out because you zapped a suburban 6 year old with electricity that the kids will do all kinds of damage to your property just for spite. A nice quaint fence would probably do the trick and won't earn you an ass beating from PsychoDad down the road. It will make a good trellis too . Then again , if you want to apply some psychological tactics ... when you scythe your lawn and weeds for compostable matter do it dressed as the Grim Reaper . Do it at dusk when most of your neighbors are at their evening sup .
Every mother will be yelling at their kids " Stay away from his yard , He's crazy "
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When I first moved into my house, my first interaction with my neighbour was him telling me not to drive my car on the grass while I was unloading the boot because it stops the grass growing. He was also trying to sell his place. I told him its fine, and continued to park the car there while we moved in. If I didn't park on this spot, he would have had me walk an extra 100 meters carrying heavy loads in the house. Ridiculous. He hasn't bothered me since.
As unfortunate as it is, people are predatory, and sense weakness. Children especially exemplify this testing of boundaries, testing for soft spots and vulnerabilities. They can also sense if something will get on your nerves. I don't know what it is, but they get a kick out of causing reactions in adults who are fixed on something, such as getting all their plumbs... or keeping their rabbits in a cage. Once the reactions stop, children get bored. Before this happens though, they will try harder to make that reaction, with bigger and grander schemes. A bit like a cold, it gets worse before getting better.
Think trees that attract bugs. Strong trees don't get infested. Just the weak ones.
I had some kids round last night and they politely asked me if they could pick some berries to make jam. so i let them as long as they didnt trash my garden, well they were fine, but i found the berries dumped outside my garden this morning!
Locks on your animal cages and electric net fencing around your fruit trees and gardens are well within your rights on your own property...the fencing, of course, is for the "rabbits and deer" that try to damage your fruit trees~if it shocks a kid, it won't be any permanent damage or even leave a mark...but it will leave an impression. Any psycho dad at that point would have to explain to the court why his child was trespassing on your property unattended by an adult. That and a good perimeter fencing with locks on the gates should be a good fix.
If you have to lock your property down like Ft. Knox, so be it. As for the pushy neighbor? Privacy fencing....lots of tall privacy fencing so that he cannot even see what you are doing on your property, let alone complain of it.
I lived in a neighborhood like that. Surrounded by neighbors with nothing better to do than complain. One day I came home and found boot prints on my side door where somebody tried to break in. Within a couple months I was gone. Not worth dealing with the battles over dumb shit and dumbshits. I took a huge financial hit doing so, but I'm so much happier that I really don't care. No neighbors to speak of and more room to do as I please.
I hope you find solutions that work for you. Speaking as somebody whose accidentally touched an electric fence, you learn that lesson really fast. Kids tend to move on to another victim once they realize that you're willing to "hurt" them.
If anyone says anything, just tell them you'll turn the voltage up in case they want to test your patience.
I have a peach tree in the front yard. Some kids came asking for some I sent them home with some blackberry sucker to plant and 1 peach each. I told them to plant the blackberry and come back for some more peaches. I haven't seen them much since last year.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
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