The One Yard Mistake to Avoid (Unless You Want to Annoy Your Neighbors)

published May 4, 2024
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Nice and comfortable neighborhood. Houses in the suburbs of Vancouver. Canada.
Credit: romakoma/Shutterstock

Our home was newly flipped when we bought it a few years ago. The inside was absolutely lovely, but the yard was a total disaster. There was zero landscaping or curb appeal, and overgrown trees and weeds everywhere. It was a little overwhelming and we had no clue where to start, but my husband and I rolled up our sleeves and just started to do what we could. Fast forward four years — and a lot of weeding, planting, and seeding later — and we’re finally beginning to see all that hard work pay off. 

Even though we still consider ourselves beginners at yard maintenance, since buying our home we’ve tried to be diligent about doing our part to be sure it isn’t an eyesore in our neighborhood. We rake and tidy our leaves multiple times a year and remove weeds and trash from our yard whenever we spot them. It’s tedious work, but the results have been truly satisfying — for our neighbors as well. On multiple occasions, neighbors passing by have stopped to thank us for taking back control over the yard. It was poorly maintained for years before we moved in, and everyone felt it was bringing down the value of the neighborhood — and attracting more rodents, wildlife, and insects too.

While adding regular yard upkeep to our to-do list has gone a long way with helping to beautify our home and neighborhood, we’ve also noticed that we’re working a bit harder than we expected to lately. That’s because some of our neighbors haven’t yet learned what we did — if you don’t maintain your yard, it can affect your neighbors’ yards, too.

There’s nothing more deflating in the fall or spring than to spend hours raking up dead leaves only to watch a wind gust come through with a new batch (courtesy of your next door neighbors, who don’t care to clear their leaves or who just blow them right into the streets) that lands right back in your yard. Just like it can also be pretty frustrating to take the time to remove weeds from your garden all spring only to look across the street and see that little dandelion puffball seeds from your neighbor’s weed-infested or overgrown lawn are blowing right back your way, just in time to settle in for next year.

Look, I get it. Not everyone is interested in raking and removing fallen leaves — some experts even say it’s good for your yard’s ecosystem if you don’t — or even considers a dandelion to be a type of weed. I also understand that not everyone is physically able to do yard work or can afford to hire someone to do it for them. It’s your home and therefore your prerogative.

But two things can be true at the same time — neglecting the upkeep of your yard is a decision that could affect more than just your household. Doing so can create different problems for your neighbors, like costing them more time and money to maintain and treat their own yards or contributing to an increase in summer pests (like mosquitoes, groundhogs, rats, or mice). 

I’d like to think we’re pretty pleasant, easygoing neighbors who keep to ourselves — live and let live, and we will continue to do so. But we do notice when our neighbors’ choice to neglect their yards year after year and season after season makes our lives just a little bit harder. It’s not something we can control, but it isn’t something that goes over well.
If you’re considering home ownership and inheriting a yard, of any kind, here’s a word to the wise: Remember that there might be just as much upkeep involved outside as there will be inside, so consider what you’re up for (and what it might cost) before you close the deal. Your neighbors will appreciate it, whether they tell you or not.