Friday, January 30, 2009

Dear Neighbor

Posted by Sarah.

Dear Neighbor,

You may find this upsetting but I feel like I need to be honest with you.

The state of my yard is so far down my list of priorities that it isn't even on the front of the piece of paper.

In all honesty I couldn't give a rats ass if there are leaves in my "flower beds". It is Fall. They decided to call it fall because of all of the leaves that continue to fall off of the trees. I have neither the time nor the inclination to rake or blow my yard every day.

Heh. I said blow my yard.

Seriously, I have two children, I work, I go to the grocery store five times a week, I haul my kids back and forth to preschool four days a week, it is football season, Gabe works 60 hours weeks (at least) and I have to still eat, sleep and blog.

I just don't care.

I know it bugs you. Otherwise why would you come over here and tell us that we need to move our car so that the leaf sucking truck can pick up our leaves?

We're not stupid. We're not even really lazy. We just have other things to do first.

Like 50 loads of laundry.

I know you think you are better than me and I am fine with that. You are much better at yard work. For all I know you might even have all of your laundry folded and put away.

The thing is, I don't care. I don't care about your yard. I don't care about my yard. We keep it mowed and I don't have any cars on my lawn or large appliance out by the curb. A few leaves aren't going to kill anybody. They aren't even going to affect your property values.

I don't begrudge you your well manicured bushes and mulch. I just want you to understand that I would rather spend 20 minutes explaining to you that I don't give a shit than I would go outside and rake.

How do I know what is under those leaves? That crap freaks me out. What if there is a snake in there or something?

In short I'm sorry it bugs you but not sorry enough to make a special effort just because you keep coming over here dropping no-so-subtle hints. In fact, that just makes me want to do it less. I've just replaced #37 rake with #38 finish watching first season of Mad Men.




I originally wrote this for my own blog, but then I got really paranoid. I figure that the neighbor that does my yard work and peeks in my window is exactly the sort of person who would be doing a Google search on my name and reading my blog obsessively to see if I was writing about her. After that it took me about 15 seconds to think of "The Basement".


Unknown said...

Say it loud for all of us with neighbours like that!!

I had this one neighbour with only one child and would give us the lecture...until his wife had twins. Now they have three kids and are in the same boat as us. I laughed so hard. I couldn't stop laughing when they told me they were having twins. He didn't get why until they were born. It wasn't even as bad as when they actually started walking! I look out the window at their house and laugh every single time. They have NO time to do anything any more. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Silly neighbours.

Sadie said...

From the mother of four living in the house with the yard full of leaves surrounded by the perfectly manicured yards of retired neighbors...Amen, Sister!

Anonymous said...

Oh Sarah! Your post hits so close to home...literally. We lived in this really really nice subdivision and were all excited when we bought our house there. Then moved out 5 months later for these same reasons...except a little more insane! We got letters for things such as: the bush in front the a/c unit wasn't big enough, the tree in the front yard was not the required minimum of 3 inches in diameter, and my favorite: we only had 11 bushes in our flowerbeds when the rules called for TWELVE. Gah! Like I said, we couldn't take it so we moved back into a kid friendly, dog owning people kind of neighborhood :)

Anonymous said...

This made me laugh so hard! We have neighbours who told us that our grass wouldn't be so brown if we watered it more (this was after 2 weeks of +30 weather). Gotta love neighbours. Or not.

Karen Bodkin said...

I had a friend who was judgy about her neighbours this way. I finally said to her, "look, maybe they have an illness in the family, or any number of things going on, including spending time with family. if you're so concerned, go over and see if you can help. otherwise stfu!"
I never heard another word about it. LOL!
There are more important things in life than stray leaves and twigs.

Unknown said...

True story:

My husband and I were out raking leaves after dark on Halloween, 2005, when my daughter was 3 months old. The neighbor with the perfect lawn, that I swear she cut with fingernail scissors, came over and told us how glad she was that we were FINALLY raking, because she was tired of our leaves blowing onto her property.

That was the end of good neighborly relations. She eventually moved, thank God.

There's a mailing list that goes to half of my (small) town, and someone was complaining about people who hadn't removed the inch or two from their sidewalks. I explained that we have small children, a business, and other priorities, and said, "Instead of pouring salt in each others wounds, let's pour it on each others walks!" I thought it was cute, and I meant that as members of a community, we should all help each other - someone who is able to get out and shovel should help someone else who isn't.

Thankfully our other neighbor has a snowblower, and he does half the neighborhood, so we rarely have to actually shovel. But I agree - if MY yard is someone else's biggest problem, that person needs to get a life.

Amy @

Anonymous said...

I am so glad it isn't just me.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I will happily go round to your neighbour and say all of this (and maybe that little more) on your behalf.

sam {temptingmama} said...

You're SOOOO not alone.

My parents comment about the state of our yard ALL the freakin' time. Weeds in the flower bed, sticks fallen from the tree, leaves, it's never ending. I sooo want to tell them if it bugs them so much, here's the shovel, here's the rake, have at it because I just don't give a shit.

Tiffi33 said...

dude. Peeps need to me more understanding..really.
if there aren't any cars on blocks in your yard, then let it
I LOVE yard work, I am garden obsessed..its crack to
and even we had leaves in our yard until earlier this

but I have never said anything to anyone one about the state of their yard, well, except one, and that IS bad, not leaves in the yard bad, we are talking WEEDS as high as the shrubs place to walk bad..junk on the porch bad...actually, they were fined once for how bad it was..

Just smile sweetly and ask if she would like to volunteer to do it for you??


Anonymous said...

Want to be my neighbor? Actually, my neighbor is just fine, it's the people next door to them. I feel bad for my neighbor. She has 6 kids, and the youngest 4 are having a heck of a time with the "Don't pick her flowers" "Don't step in her grass"

My yard and the neighbor's yard run into each other in the front. We actually cut each other's front grass in the summer, and toss each other's toys onto the front porch when we do it. I love my neighbors. I've been here 10 years, and they've been here for 2. I waited a long time for them. >sigh.

elainepill said...

we don't have the yard police, but we do have an 80 y/o childless neighbor who just can't understand why we don't have the time for certain things since we've had 2 kids. like returning her calls on BS that she's wondering about. or the weather. or why our bedroom lights were on all night. on and on and on...

i think you're doing the right thing and have the whole thing right...your neighbor has the time to worry about it, but you don't. end of story.

Issa said...

You are not alone on this one. I figure I'll have time to make my yard "pretty" when I have no children. Until then, my neighbors should just be happy that we mow the grass.

You should tell her that she is welcome to rake your yard if it bugs her so much.

addy said...

I love love love this post. You are awesome.

Anonymous said...

I don't even have kids; I just hate manicured lawns. I also hate people who water their grass and put pesticides on it. It looks boring, it takes tons of environmentally unfriendly upkeep, and it doesn't stay alive if you leave it alone for more than a couple of days. Forget that... I have better things to do! Now I live in an urban neighbourhood of mixed ethnicities and tons of interesting shops and things, and I don't have to take any flak. Except for a couple of sweet elderly ladies who walk by my roses and shake their heads and complain in Portuguese.

Anonymous said...

My whole life my mother has had a sign in her house that reads "dull women have immaculate houses!" I think that includes the yard so keep up the good non dull work :)
If it makes you feel any better my yard has not only leaves but a spot the boys(my 2year old and 4 year old) have dug up and call the mud pit! I figure there is plenty of time for well manicured lawns and trimmed hedges when the boys are off at university till then I'm going to spend my time playing with them!!!

Loralee Choate said...

Please come and live by me.

You would be so much more awesome than the ones I currently have.

Stimey said...

At one point one of my neighbors asked if she could weed in my yard. After I finished being offended, I let her, because, frankly, I didn't want to do it.

Also, once, my husband was so freaked out by a spider he saw in a leaf pile that instead of raking it up, he started it on fire. We have a rule now that he has to ask me first before he starts anything on fire.

Simply AnonyMom said...

Sing it sister! I feel the exact same way.

karen said...

Next time the topic comes up, get delighted - clearly, that neighbor is just dying to take care of your yard, as well as their own! Be genuinely thankful and remind them you'd like the lawn scraps the town won't sweep up bagged.

Anonymous said...

I haven't raked my yard yet. I have only one neighbor in my 'hood that is worse than me, and GOD they are worse. Their kids are 10 and 12, and there are BABY toys stacked on the porch, and their dogs thieve things and spread them over the neighborhood. They are crazy, (like in trouble with the law crazy) so I would never say anything- but a few leaves? Please. I don't have time either.

Anonymous said...

it never fails to amaze me how mean people can be. we are blessed to have a 83 year old neighbor who *always* comes and blows out the end of our driveway (where the plow piles it up, we're on a corner and get a lot of snow plowed in there), and then if he has time and the cars are gone, he does the whole driveway. he's been doing this since my husband broke his back and our son was 2 years old. there *are* good neighbors out there!! it just sucks that yours are so awful!

Poppy Buxom said...

I'm completely lackadaisical about our lawn. I couldn't care less about keeping up with the Joneses. A few years ago a family moved across the street and all they do is improve their house. New facade, new portico, new driveway, brand new landscaping, new roof, new windows--the list goes on and on.

Meanwhile I live in a teardown. I'm convinced the woman across the street peers through her net curtains at us like Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched, just. hating. us. HA!

Anonymous said...

You must live on the other side of MY neighbor. He used to come put after we mowed and look disapprovingly at the property line because we evidently didn't mow completely straight along it.
He called the police once about the "strange car" that was parked in front of his house -- that belonged to a guest of ours who had the ridiculous notion that the street was for public parking.
He complained about the weeds by our back fence so much that I told him I'd leave some trash bags out and he could take care of it himself if it bothered him so greatly. (Our yards back up to RR tracks so there are LOTS of weeds that grow through the fence. We could pull them weekly and it wouldn't make much difference.)
Needless to say we don't talk much.

I had an old cartoon on my fridge for the longest time that said "we're raising children, not grass." Amen.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found your comments. I couldn't agree more. I have a neighbor who has sent in a complaint against me to my HOA every week for the last 8 months. He drives the neighborhood twice everday with his camera taking pictures. They need to get off their throne and find something better to do than judge those around them.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why some people want to put their OCD on other people. Bleh!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My daughter's preschool teacher has 42 years of experience as a preschool teacher. (just think about that. and she still speaks in complete sentences) She routinely does a home visit with each child before the school years begins. It's so the kid can meet her on their own turf and become comfortable with her before the parents drop them off at school. She's told me several times that she doesn't worry at all about people who have messy yards and houses. It's the ones with immaculate houses that don't spend enough time with their kids. She says she can gauge the amount of work she'll have to do with the parents based on the color of their carpet. White = many hours of advice and training.

CheekySweetie said...

I had that neighbor, too. I worked full time, was in college full time, was raising four kids, and trying to get an online biz running. My husband and I separated and my roommate fell off the wagon and moved back to his home state, so the lawn got high. And I couldn't have cared less. He continually badgered not only me about it, but my older kids, as well. Meanwhile he has a riding mower and it would have taken him ten minutes to mow it for me if it bothered him that bad. He didn't work, only had a 17yo stepson, and spent his days obsessively grooming his lawn. Guess it's easy to become fixated when you don't have a life full of loved ones! *grin*

Anonymous said...

I was so glad when we moved away from the fussiest neighbors ever. They were older, their children were grown and gone (or maybe they'd used them as lawn fertilizer - who the heck knows?). Anyway, that summer I had two small children and a newborn, migraine headaches, and a husband whose job required him to be on the road a lot. We kept the grass mowed, watered, and put out a few flowers, but mostly I considered it to be play area for my kids. - no pesticides, and no obsessing. The neighbors, however, were outside everyday going over their grass, literally bent over checking individual blades of grass, pulling out whatever offended them and spraying more bug-and weed-killer as they went. They always wanted to share their poisons with me to kill whatever they didn't like in my lawn, though I repeatedly told them I didn't want that stuff around my kids. The kicker was when a cottonwood tree on the property line was sending out its little floaty seed-things, and one landed on a steak on their grill - the woman came screeching to me about the "dandelion puffy" that must have come from my "untended lawn". I never spoke to the old harpy again. Enough is enough.