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Rather Strange Neighbour Problem

(16 Posts)
smilingmind Fri 21-Oct-16 19:05:38

We recently moved into a house with a garden. The garden was a deal maker for me as hadn't had one for 20 years and I longed for one.
It is, or was, totally private with bushes and trees and a beautiful hedge, which we were told is mediaeval, at the back. This hedge has lots of different hedgerow plants growing like hawthorn, elderflower, and birds nest in it. It is around 3 metres high.
Just after moving in our neighbour from the back came round, in his pyjamas, asking us to cut the hedge. Strange as he had quite a long walk from his house to ours partly along a main road.
We didn't want to cut it but told him we certainly couldn't do anything then as birds were nesting in it. He then went home and cut down to about 1 metre the part of the hedge on his land.
The boundary has a newish small wire fence and the majority of the hedge is on our land.
We subsequently found out this man has Alzheimer's. Which explains him walking the streets in his pyjamas.
I'm not unsympathetic for the poor man but am now really concerned that he may decide to cut down the rest of the hedge.
I've looked and can't get a preservation order on it as, although originally on farmland, it is no longer. There are no laws stating how high it should be and it doesn't block his light as his house is quite a long way from it. Also our garden is south facing so it only affects our sunlight not his.
Anyway that's not the answer as I don't want to take him to court for illegally cutting our hedge, as I could do even though it isn't preserved, as by then the damage will be done.
I wondered if we should cut a bit off the top now the nesting season has finished to keep him happy but maybe he's forgotten all about it and doing so may remind him.
I think he has a wife so maybe approach her but how? Going round and asking her to prevent her husband cutting our hedge would be difficult and possibly offensive to her. I'm sure she has enough problems living with him already.
Apologies for the length of this and any ideas please.

legotits Fri 21-Oct-16 19:07:49

Excellent title.

Off to read OP!

RoundandAroundSheGoes Fri 21-Oct-16 19:10:21

His wife should probably lock the tools up or give them away if he's randomly lopping bits off things, he doesn't sound like he's mentally well enough to be doing that kind of thing.

legotits Fri 21-Oct-16 19:13:47

Firstly I would try and find wife or carers and engage them.

A cake and a natter is always the least painful way.

I think if it were my DF I would be relieved and grateful for your reasonableness.

My Nan did used to break into gardens and steal daffodils though. So I am biased.

Mymothersdaughter Fri 21-Oct-16 19:14:49

I would talk to his wife, she's probably used to his ways and will be able to suggest something to help. As above poster said, locking up the tools would be an obvious option smile

Lweji Fri 21-Oct-16 19:19:24

Yes, talk to the wife and see what she suggests.

Eventually, you could put a more solid and tall fence, just to kep it safer and less confrontational, but she may have a better solution.

smilingmind Fri 21-Oct-16 19:30:58

Thank you. I really don't know how bad he is but often seems to be out in the garden with his 'boys' toys'. Every time I hear the sound of one I rush to see if our hedge is still there.
Maybe we should cut a bit off the top. I don't mind doing that as it is rather straggly, and then go round and tell both of them that we've cut it and don't want to cut any more.
Just need to sort out how to do it as can't afford to pay anyone and it is not strong enough to put a ladder up.
I planted 2 leylandi where he cut it down. Hate the things and won't let them grow any higher than the hedge. Will also cut them right down if his part grows again. Don't know if he's seen them yet.
I'm really bad at confronting people and usually send DH but he thinks I'm making a fuss about nothing and it will never happen.
The back garden is my territory and the front garden/garage is his.
The only way we could put up a fence is to go into his garden and do it as the hedge is too thick to do it from our side.

smilingmind Fri 21-Oct-16 19:37:31

legotits my DH planted a hedge round our front garden which is still very small, less than 50cm.
Someone stole some of his new hedge plants which he was pretty pissed off about.
Maybe our poor neighbour has a thing about hedges.

JoJoSM2 Sat 22-Oct-16 08:28:16

3m is a very tall hedge, Alzheimer's or not. I know the man lost his credibility by randomly turning up in his PJs but it would be polite sitting down with him and his wife to discuss it. 3m is enough to block light and have a massive impact on how you use your garden. If it were a wall or fence you surely wouldn't be allowed to have it that high.

FlamingoSnuffle Sat 22-Oct-16 08:37:49

JoJo OP has said her garden is south facing so the hedge casts a shadow on her garden not the neighbours.

OP if he was round so quick it makes you wonder whether he approached the previous owners of your house. Could you ask them?

smilingmind Sat 22-Oct-16 13:33:44

It's obviously a very old hedge that has grown over a very long time and runs across the back of a lot of houses.
Maybe it's not 3 metres more like 2.5 but quite a bit taller than me.
The area also has a lot of very tall trees, lots of wildlife and we had several birds nesting in the hedge. They are very tame and the babies were hopping around the garden. We were told by the estate agents the hedge is mediaeval and even if I wanted to cut it, which I don't, would be reluctant to do so for that reason and also because of the birds. Also bees who go to the blossom in the hedge.
As far as I can see cutting it would serve no purpose but to affect our, and the neighbours at the back, privacy.
The sun comes from the neighbours at the back side of the hedge in the morning. In the afternoon it comes to the front of the house but doesn't get as far as the end of our back garden. If the hedge blocks anyone's sunlight it is ours.
The part of the hedge in the neighbours garden, which he cut down, was just the same height and had obviously been there for the same length of time.
I have no idea where the people we bought the house from are. We've had several letters for them and asked our neighbours but they don't know. Neither do the estate agents or if they do they aren't saying and refused to take the letters to forward.
Thank you everyone for replying. I'm going to see if we can find a way to tidy up the top and cut off a small amount. Then tell them we've done that and don't want to cut any more.
We can do so now but when he asked us to cut the hedge, and when he cut his part, birds were nesting and as far as I know it is illegal to cut any hedge where birds are nesting.
I've no idea how long our problem neighbour has lived there but the houses were built in the 1970s.

LimpidPools Sat 22-Oct-16 13:40:21

Generally speaking, hedges do require management to stop them turning into rows of scrappy trees, so the idea of trimming it sympathetically is perfectly sensible. Especially as now is the right season for it.

But of course you won't be cutting it down! I don't think you should be embarrassed - just go and have a sympathetic chat with his wife.

user1471549018 Sat 22-Oct-16 15:12:35

Did you ask him why he wants you to trim the hedge? If it doesn't block light and is quite away from their house then the only possible reason i can think of is because it looks untidy. I'd agree with everyone else, go round and talk to the wife and agree to keep it tidy and well maintained.

PolterGoose Sat 22-Oct-16 15:17:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whataboutbob Sat 22-Oct-16 15:55:57

Speaking as the daughter of someone with Alzheimers (my mum died 21 years ago so I am the responsible adult in the picture) who committed too many misdemeanours to list here. I really appreciated the tact and dignity with which his long suffering neighbours tackled him and only approached me if incidents were too disruptive/ socially unacceptable. i agree with above posters who suggest a neighbourly approach and trying to speak to his wife/ any other relie who might be in the picture. Or you could approach other neighbours and tactfully explain the situation and see what they suggest. The man and his family are more likely to be co operative if you approach them sensitively. Having said that you have my sympathies. i would beware of approaching him on his own as people with Alzhemiers can so easily get the wrong end of the stick and feel threatened even if it's not warranted.

smilingmind Sat 22-Oct-16 18:47:23

Thank you what .
What you say certainly makes sense and I appreciate the difficulty of the situation.
I've actually had a good look at the hedge now some leaves have dropped and see that it actually consists of mature trees with quite thick trunks and other plants like elderberry and hawthorn filling up the gaps.
They are not close enough to the neighbours' house to cause damage to his foundations and must have been there when it was built.
As I said there are a lot of mature trees around here. We have two others in our garden and the neighbours on each side both have two besides their section of the hedge.
That hopefully makes it easier as I doubt he would actually cut down our trees.
I've spoken to my DH and he agrees we should find a way to trim the tops to make it look more tidy. Maybe we can hire something as I doubt my usual method of pruning with a big pair of scissors would work, even if I found a way to get up so high, Obviously we can't cut it much shorter without actually damaging the trees.
When we've done this we will approach the neighbour and his wife in a friendly way, explain what we have done and say we hope they are happy with it.

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