Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Troy-Bilt. All opinions are my own.
Last year I partnered with Troy-Bilt for a little backyard makeover, and I’m proud to be partnering with them again this year on their “Fence Talks” campaign. This time around our partnership is a bit different. Throughout their time spent getting to know their audience, the folks at Troy-Bilt found a recurring theme that kept coming up in discussions: neighbor issues. Whether it be a dog barking at all hours, someone mowing their lawn at the crack of dawn, a neighbor’s pet using their yard as a bathroom and not being cleaned up after, etc., so many people can relate. So they asked me to address one of my own yard problems and discuss specific neighbor issues (disclaimer: I am incredibly lucky to be blessed with AMAZING neighbors), as well as issues I’ve had in the past. First, let’s talk about a current yard issue. You all may remember a few years ago our ivy problem was so bad that we hired a herd of goats to come eat it. (It was quite a spectacle, and they even escaped, so I’m afraid back then WE were the problem neighbors!)
Well, the ivy is back and out of control and one issue we’ve run into over the years is the fact that some of the ivy comes in through the fence and is rooted on property that doesn’t belong to us. I thought this might be a good issue to discuss since many people are in the same boat.
Troy-Bilt arranged for me to have a conversation with Dr. Therese Mascardo, founder and CEO of a mental health and wellness community called Exploring Therapy, who shared lots of helpful advice on how to deal with not only this specific issue, but also lots of common neighbor issues that many of you might be able to relate to.
Dr. Mascardo advised that you work on building a relationship with your neighbors (including the one you have an issue with). So for example, if you have a neighbor whose dog barks all the time or someone who mows their lawn too early or too late, get to know them and build a positive relationship with them. This opens up the line of communication. She said, “It’s good to ask for what you want. But it’s easier to ask when you’ve already formed a trusting relationship.” She also says that, “When it comes to neighbors, communication is everything.” Someone will respond much more positively if they have a rapport with you already and you ask nicely for more courtesy, as opposed to you demanding courtesy from a neighbor you’ve never even spoken to.
For my specific ivy issue, since I don’t know the neighbor whose property is behind us, she urged me to be proactive and cross the divide. She advised connecting with them in some way, such as an introduction letter, gift, or picture of our family so they could get to know us better. She recommended including my contact information and letting them know that if they ever need me, or if there’s ever anything that we might do to accidentally bother them, to please contact me ASAP.
Dr. Mascardo said, “To have the best relationships (with neighbors or otherwise), try to move from transactional to relational.” She added, “Most neighbor issues can be healed with good communication.” That said, she advises to ask for what you DO want, not for what you DON’T want. For example: “We would like to ask for your support in keeping the hedges trimmed.” vs “We don’t like the hedges in our yard.”
I found Dr. Mascardo’s advice to be very helpful and I think much of her advice can apply to all relationships in general. You can check out a video of our entire conversation here:
In the meantime, I will be addressing the ivy issue by pulling it up and using this new chipper shredder from Troy-Bilt to make mulch to cover the ground that the ivy is currently covering, hoping to help suppress its growth a bit and also make that area look better.
I will be applying what I’ve learned from Dr. Mascardo and I’ll post a progress report soon! You can find Dr. Mascardo online here or on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Big thanks to Troy-Bilt for facilitating this collaboration! I’m curious, have you encountered any neighbor issues? If so, how did you resolve it? Tell me about it in the comments!