GARDENING: How to keep the peace with neighbors
Nowadays, it is rare for folks to have huge acre lot gardens. Nuclear gardens are now in vogue, where neighbors can gaze at each other’s gardens without batting an eyelid. Sometimes there are no fences in between, which seemingly makes it look like a shared community yard and becomes tougher to contain for each side.
Plants have no boundaries, but we humans do. A little mindfulness would go a long way towards building lasting relationships with those who live next to you.
Mind the property lines
Being conscious of property lines while landscaping will ease any anxiety between neighbors. Keeping in mind the width and height of shrubs and plants before planting will prevent encroachment into adjacent properties. Having a plant bed touching a fence that will wick all the moisture from the soil will lead to wood rot, thus weakening the structure. Shrubs, trees or vines that may spread their appendages need to be clipped once or twice a year to prevent dead branches or leaves from falling into another yard.
Occasionally, some branches that touch the ground could root themselves and sprout new plants. So keep an eye on the borders and eradicate at will.
Be careful about what gets planted in your garden, and be knowledgeable about native and non-native plants. Invasive species disrupt the existing plant community by outcompeting native plants and taking all the nutrients and water. It is too easy for plants from all over the world to be brought in to alter native habitats.
Most gardeners assume that our local garden centers are knowledgeable and know exactly what they are selling. Yet invasive species such as wisteria, bamboo, Japanese honeysuckle and English ivy have crept into many gardens. A list of all native plants can be found at WNPS Native Plant Directory. Do thorough research before putting anything in the ground.
Do not use chemicals
The movement of avoiding chemicals in gardens has been gaining momentum in recent years. Making a conscious effort to eradicate the use of chemicals will not only improve our health, but also the health of our environment. Be aware that noxious substances you spray or put in the ground do not necessarily stop at your property line, and can also kill beneficial insects. Compost is a great fertilizer for lawn, flower and vegetable gardens alike.
Keep those weeds in check
Who wants to look out the window and see ugly weeds everywhere? By definition, a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted. Some of the organic ways to exterminate weeds include chopping their heads off before seeding, yanking out root spreading tentacles, reduced tilling, pouring boiling water over them, or spraying vinegar on a hot day.
Pacific Northwest rain, unfortunately, helps to build the immune systems of weeds by offering adequate nourishment for them to grow faster and stronger. At the same time, it also makes our job easier by loosening the soil for us to pull them out. Add mulch to all the unplanted space to prevent weed propagation. In due time, weeds will considerably lessen.
Finally, it is important to keep the lines of communication with your neighbors open. Tell them about any changes you are planning in your garden that might affect them. If you are bothered by a neighbor’s actions or inaction in the garden, find a way to gently express your feelings without raising hackles. Not everyone is a master gardener, but having an open mind to discuss and learn will help in the long run.