No matter how much you might love a neighborhood, or how much you might love the house, once you have purchased a new home you can’t predict how you will interact with your neighbors. For better or worse, neighborhoods put us up-close and personal with people who could be completely different than us. Sometimes that creates life-long friendships, but other times it creates a recipe for disaster.
There are all kinds of things that cause clashes between neighbors – from someone not respecting property lines, messy pets, or noisy kids. But how do you keep your sanity while also keeping the peace? Read on to learn the best ways to deal with your neighbor’s bad habits.
1.Talk to Them
It may sound obvious, but it’s a step that many people miss when dealing with conflict. If your neighbor is doing something that annoys you, approach them. The key is to do it in a nice way. Try inviting them over for dessert or coffee. Casually bring up the problem you are having and see if you can come up with a solution. Most people are reasonable and would rather not have conflict with their neighbors – you just have to speak to them with respect and kindness.
2.Plant Some Trees
Trees are a nice alternative to a fence if you’re looking to create some privacy for your property. Head out to your local nursery and find the best kind of trees for your neighborhood and climate. Pine trees are good because they aren’t too big or too small, and they don’t lose their needles so you have year-round privacy. If you do opt for trees, remember they are living things that need care and maintenance like everything else. Make sure they have adequate access to sun and water, and prune them when it’s needed.
3.Establish your Property Line
If the annoyance stems from a dispute over where one yard starts and another one ends, it can probably solved with relative ease. You can pay to have a land surveyor come out to your property. Or, if you want, you can obtain a copy of your property deed. You do that by going to your local Department of Public Records. Once you know where your property line lies, mark it off with a fence, spray paint or wooden posts.
Instead of starting world war three, try to come to a middle ground between you and your neighbor. Figure out a way that everyone can be happy. Or, if not happy, at least not full of rage. If you are bothered by an apple tree on their property that keeps dropping leaves on your lawn, agree that you’ll rake up the leaves if your neighbor gives you a few baskets of apples when they are ripe. If you are annoyed by their barking dog, offer your teenaged son’s dog walking services (for a small fee, of course).
5.Talk About It
Sometimes when something is upsetting you, you need an outside perspective. Take your issue to a friend, coworker or even your religious leader. Explain to them what the problem is and why you are upset. They might be able to give insight on the problem that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. They might even help you find a good solution!
6.Clean it Up
You spend precious time and energy keeping your yard good-looking and free of trash. So, it’s maddening when you do all the hard work only to find food wrappers, old newspapers and other bits of debris blown into your yard. You could corner your neighbor next time you see them walking to your car, but that might make for an awkward time at the next block party. Instead, how about organizing a monthly neighborhood-wide cleanup day? Get everyone involved cleaning up litter and debris from streets and sidewalks. Not only will it mean a cleaner, neater ‘hood, it will help you get to know your neighbors.
7.Build a Fence
Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbors – and he was certainly right about that. A fence can help you block out what is happening on either side of your property, while offering you a bit of peace and privacy. If you have a pet, a fence might help keep *you* from being the annoying neighbor, by keeping your pets and their “presents” in your yard exclusively.
If one doesn’t exist, organize a neighborhood association to tackle reoccurring problems where you live. That way, it’s not just you against your neighbor. Elect someone more diplomatic to help you solve the problem. Also, a neighborhood association could lend some organization to the community, but clearly establishing what is accepted and not accepted where you live. The association could help keep crime out by organizing a neighborhood watch to keep an eye on things for the community.
9.Get the Police Involved
If you feel threatened or in danger in any way, don’t hesitate to contact the authorities. At the very least, this establishes a record of problems between you and the neighbor from a trusted third party. Another time that you might want to call the police is if you suspect a child is in danger or have evidence of illegal activity.
Remember that life is short. Unless you feel threatened or in danger, remember that there are some little annoyances that come with living close to other people. As a matter of fact, there are probably some things you do that annoy others. Sometimes, when you have clashed with someone close to you, the best thing you can do is let bygones be bygones. Bake your neighbor a pie, or buy them a nice bottle of wine. Share it with them and agree to take a second shot at being neighborly.