How To Be A Good Neighbor In Your Garden

A man uses a leaf blower on fall leaves
(Image credit: Smileus)

One of the complicating aspects of life is that each of us wears many hats. Yes, we are gardeners, but each of us also plays other roles, including being neighbors. That means that when it is time to work in the garden or backyard, it’s important to think not just like a gardener, but also like a neighbor. 

It’s entirely possible to be a good, efficient gardener and a caring neighbor at the same time, but it requires awareness and consideration. Read on for more ideas on garden etiquette, including lawn mower etiquette.

Garden Etiquette

Condensing the broad subject of garden etiquette into one phrase is easy: be a good neighbor. However, figuring out how to be a good neighbor when it comes to maintaining your property takes a little more effort.

Part of this depends on where you live. Anyone in a rural environment with ample land can get by with much less investment in neighbors’ comfort. City dwellers, though, might have a little slice of land surrounded by others with equally small, but precious, yards. This is when the most attention to neighbors is called for.

Lawn Mowing Etiquette

Not everyone keeps a traditional turfgrass lawn anymore, and if you have converted to native grasses, you are to be commended. Many people still love their lawns despite the water and maintenance they need, including regular mowing.

It’s a little like “other people’s children.” While nobody finds the noise of their own lawn mowing annoying, the sound of the neighbor mowing at sunrise is irritating. How early is too early to mow? That will vary between neighborhoods, but dawn should not be a possibility. No mowing should take place before 9 A.M. on weekdays, 10 A.M. on weekends.

Get to Know Your Neighbors

There are many other ways to show good garden etiquette. Be sure your gardening habits do not leave a mess across the property line. Always ask before clipping back an overhanging shrub belonging to your neighbor or taking a cutting from an attractive flowering bush. Be careful to keep all sprays on your own garden.

Also, go out of your way not to disturb others when socializing. Late-night parties are a good example. Noise carries farther than one thinks, and loud neighbors outside at midnight can bother the entire block. 

The best idea is to get to know your neighbors and their habits. Go over and introduce yourself, bring them garden flowers or homemade cookies, get to know their names and their schedules. Try to accommodate the neighbor who works late and the one with the new baby. Being kind is always good etiquette, and worth the effort.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.