There is a seemingly endless array of issues that turn a friendly neighbourhood into a battleground. Chances are, your local government office and even the police have heard more than their share of grievances over issues like barking dogs, parking, and trees that cross property lines. One of the most common complaints from neighbourhoods with homes placed in close proximity to one another is over poorly maintained yards.
Un-mowed lawns, weedy gardens and fallen leaves that are never raked can become a major sore spot when one neighbour’s unkempt yard is seen to reflect negatively on the entire neighbourhood. The question is, how to deal with a neighbour’s neglected yard?
- Keep Calm and Look the Other Way
If your neighbour’s unkempt yard is not impacting the health and safety of the neighbourhood, the best thing you can do may be to just look the other way. Yes, a lawn covered in fallen weeds is unsightly, and having those leaves blow onto your freshly raked lawn is annoying. However, before you do anything rash, stop and ask yourself if “doing something” about the problem is worth the tension that it will likely create between your family and your neighbour.
- Talk to Them About It
Just knocking on the door and taking your neighbour to task about their unsightly yard is not something that will work for everyone. Sometimes, it’s a matter of having a good excuse (other than your offended eyes). Something like having out-of-town company coming over, or if you’re selling your house can offer the perfect excuse for you to ask your neighbor about their neglected yard. You just might learn that the yard is being neglected due to poor health or financial woes.
- Offer to Lend a Hand
Yes, you already work hard enough maintaining your own yard. However, if after you’ve talked to your neighbour and discover that they are for one reason or another unable to rake the leaves or mow their grass, you might want to consider lending a hand. Not only will this remove the eyesore of their neglected yard, but it may go a long way toward fostering an improved neighbourly relationship.
- Consult Your Local Bylaws
Unfortunately, in some cases, trying to take the high road is not a sufficient solution for neighbourhood disputes. If this reflects your situation, then it may be possible to take advantage of municipal bylaws and file a complaint.
In most Canadian municipalities there are bylaws in place to uphold certain property standards. These bylaws can deal with issues such as derelict vehicles on the premises, keeping yards free from garbage, and even the number of garage sales you are entitled to have in a year (in Toronto, that number is 2, by the way). Keep in mind however, that not all municipalities have the same bylaws.
When it comes to mowing the lawn, you will find that most municipalities have a bylaw in place stating that grass and weeds are not to grow higher than 20 centimetres (8 inches). If the grass exceeds this height, a complaint can be filed and the city/town may mow the lawn at the homeowner’s expense. Similarly, fallen leaves and garden refuse are generally classified as waste, and the presence of excessive leaves on the front lawn may (and this is a strong may) place a homeowner in violation of the local yard and lot maintenance bylaw.
If you feel strongly about your neighbour’s neglected yard, you can visit the bylaws section of your city or town’s official website and register a complaint either by email or by phone.
Alternatively, if you happen to be a homeowner at the centre of a neglected yard dispute, and are having a hard time maintaining your property due to illness or time constraints, there is a solution. Hiring a professional landscaper or even a handyman can take away the burden of trying to keep your yard in order.