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Moral Dilemma?

(25 Posts)
LtEveDallas Tue 24-Jun-14 22:06:59

We've just moved into our first home. It's been a pain in the arse, but we are getting there, slowly.

One of the challenges is the garden. It's big, bigger than we've ever had before and its seriously overgrown. Previous owner admitted she hadn't cut hedges/bushes etc for 3 years or so. Hedges either side are reaching the upstairs windows, trees at the bottom are probably 20 ft. We started cutting one bush back and found a large shed (full of junk) that we didn't even know existed!

DH is overjoyed and can't wait to get stuck in. He reckons it will take him a good 6 months to tame it. He intends to do the hedges first and cut them back about 3 ft and down to about 8 ft. We like the hedges, like the privacy and the greenery. The garden is full of birds and MuttDog has already found 2 rabbit holes.

Dilemma. We met our neighbour yesterday. He is an 80 year old widower currently nursing his terminal sister. He seems a lovely old boy, chatty (if forgetful), helpful and loved the MuttDog. He asked DH about the garden and DH told him his plans.

Neighbour then said he wants to remove the hedges between our gardens in entirety and put up a fence instead. Said his nephew would do the work and that his other neighbour had already agreed. Said they were too much for him, he couldn't keep them neat and that he had hated them for years. Ranted a bit about them - he really hates these hedges.

But we like the hedges...
But on the other hand he's an old man that is struggling...

We don't know what to do. It seems wrong for us to keep something that is "pretty" if it's making life hard for someone else. But what about what we want?

TooTiredToBeCreative Tue 24-Jun-14 22:09:03

Could you offer to trim back his side if the hedge once a month during the summer?

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 24-Jun-14 22:12:57

Or could the fence sit right up against the hedge, close enough to restrict growth his side, but you would still have greenery your side, offering to clip the top/bit above the fence if he allowed access to his garden?

We do this, the hedge only needs doing 3/4 times a year

Trillions Tue 24-Jun-14 22:14:43

Agree - just do his side of the hedge for him. Your DH shouldn't mind the extra work if he's such a keen gardener grin

JustPassingThru Tue 24-Jun-14 22:16:52

I would offer to trim the hedge for him and see if he agrees. If not, then you'll have to try Jenny's idea.

Was a timescale mentioned? Or is it one of those things that the nephew will do 'when he has the time' ie never?

LtEveDallas Tue 24-Jun-14 22:19:00

Neighbour reckons that his nephew says the whole lot has to come out for him to site the fence, and that if we kept hedge on our side it would push against the fence and ruin it.

DH said to him straight away that he would cut neighbours side for him, but he seemed to just wave it off, like that wasn't an option.

We asked neighbours on the other side about him and they told a tragic tale. They really like him and the woman seems to do a lot for him. Don't particularly want to fall out with both our new neighbours in the first week!

kaymondo Tue 24-Jun-14 22:23:02

Whose boundary is it? If it's yours, keep your hedge! If it's his then he can have his fence and you can plant a new hedge your side of the fence, what you decide to plant in your garden is your business! We have a laurel hedge against our fence - it hasn't done any damage to the fence and masks it completely.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 24-Jun-14 22:23:44

I'm a little bit suspicious now, if he was such a lovely old boy and previous owner of your house agreed to his nephew doing all the work, why didn't they have it done already, especially as the garden was obviously a struggle for both parties

coffeeinbed Tue 24-Jun-14 22:25:34

He could move or might have to go to a home and then you will be stuck with new neighbours who might not be nice and a low fence.

Keep the hedge. Trim them, but keep them.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 24-Jun-14 22:26:50

And who's paying for materials I wonder. . .

KatyMac Tue 24-Jun-14 22:28:44

Why not say - the move has been very 'disturbing' (not really the right word but you know what I mean) & could he just hang on a little bit while you get to know the garden - before they put the fence in

Then look after the hedge & see what happens - it may never be mentioned again.....

traviata Tue 24-Jun-14 22:31:40

don't cut hedges until August because of birds nesting and fledglings needing somewhere to hide RSPB

Pannacotta Tue 24-Jun-14 22:32:56

Don't give in to pressure, a really nice old boy would not be hassling you.
And it is bollocks that you have to remove it all to put up fencing on one side.
If you remove the hedges you will take away nesting sites for lots of birds and home to other wildlife and you will notice the difference in terms of birdsong alone.
Plus they are much nicer to look at and better for privacy than dull old fence.

Stratter5 Tue 24-Jun-14 22:36:02

Please don't touch the hedges for a couple of months, and if it's your boundary, please keep the hedges for the wildlife.

LtEveDallas Tue 24-Jun-14 22:39:12

Thats not a bad suggestion Katy. The move was pretty rotten and we told him about it (builder issues, money lost etc). Maybe if we actually cut the hedge back he might get used to it.

Woman we bought house off just wasnt interested in the garden (or the house). She bought just before her and her dh split and she wanted rid we think.

We aren't sure about the boundary. The hedge is enormous so its hard to tell where it starts. Sure neighbout would know, but would he tell us the truth? Need to dig out the Land Registry stuff (oh God, another box to unpack sad)

AgathaF Tue 24-Jun-14 22:45:23

You have as much right to a hedge as he has to a fence. You have offered a solution (maintaining his side of hedge), but he has chosen to ignore this. I'd say keep your hedge, for the time being at least. See how it goes in the longer term.

LtEveDallas Tue 24-Jun-14 22:46:52

Sorry missed those posts. Yes, thats part of why DH thinks the garden will take so long, he is very keen on birds/wildlife (as am I). I was sat in the garden this weekend and saw pigeons, blackbirds, a friendly robin, coaltits, a woodpecker, swifts and bats. I love all that and would really miss it if we lost the hedge completely.

just say you will think about it. and think about it, then decide no to the fence.
he could have done it before surely?

KatyMac Tue 24-Jun-14 22:47:54


& your DH can chat to the neighbour sort off "have to keep the wife happy" "as soon as she has calmed down we can...." "just hang on a bit as she's being a bit....."

An older man will respond to that I think

coffeeinbed Tue 24-Jun-14 22:53:44

Oh yes, fledglings need few more weeks of peace.

At least.

LtEveDallas Tue 24-Jun-14 23:02:32

Ah yes, he does seem quite 'traditional'. Was taken aback when DH said he was a SAHD smile, and fell over himself when DD bought in a photo of the two of us in uniform grin.

Could say that we couldn't make a decision until after the summer due to nesting/fledgling birds, then trim it and see how he goes with it. Would buy us some time at least, and give us a chance to get to know him better/find his soft spot

steppemum Tue 24-Jun-14 23:05:45

You need to find out where the boundary line is.

This is really important. You will need the deeds and may need to do some careful measuring etc.

My mum moved into a house with large hedges all round. They were all on their side of the boundary, so all her hedges. The hedges were 2 metres thick. She has taken some of them out and the garden looks huge!

If the hedges are on his side, he can do what he likes, if on your side, you can smile and nicely say you can't afford it at the moment/you haven't made any decisions yet etc.

If it is a joint boundary, you can still refuse, and he can only then take the hedge back to the boudary line. If they are that overgrown, it is unlikely they will grow from one trunk, so he could take out his side, but he cannot cross the line without your permission.

FunkyBoldRibena Wed 25-Jun-14 06:39:12

I'd say what I said Whalen a neighbour started crying about the shed that was in our garden when we moved in, which was it was one of the things that attracted us about the garden and the time to complain would have been when it went up. Not now that it is established. And it is staying!

TheCSLibraryPree Wed 25-Jun-14 06:54:03

Whatever you do, and on whoever's side of the boundary the hedges are, be careful. One of my colleagues had a lovely trailing plant (about 25 years old, so well established) along her side fence. Neighbour wanted it gone as "it made their fence look untidy!" She came home from work one afternoon to find the plant looking decidedly sick - the neighbour had gone under the fence line and cut through the main stems (trunks?) of the plant killing it!! All because she wouldn't agree to remove her plant from HER boundary fence (confirmed by deeds!!)

LtEveDallas Wed 25-Jun-14 07:07:29

DH has just had a 20 x 8 shed installed at the bottom of the garden, so I hope no one complains about that!

We will have a good look at the hedge this weekend, and I'll dig out the deeds. It just seems a shame to start our 'new life' on the back foot. We dont want to upset the old boy, so the plan is to delay first off, then see if we can come to a compromise. DH will happily sort his garden for him, rather than see him struggle, although our untamed wilderness will have to come first!

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