Advice on how to repair bad neighbor reputation?

CrabgrassKillerAugust 17, 2014

We first moved in about a year ago, and everything was great. The neighbors all seemed friendly to one another, and happily said "Hello!" with a wave if they walked by while we were out in the yard.
During the process of moving in, however, I tore the ligament in the arch of both of my feet (and still have issues with my right foot to this day) and could barely walk. I have four dogs, and since I could not walk, my son had to take them out. Being a typical 13 year old, he'd just open the front door, and let the dogs run amok throughout the neighborhood, running after them and shouting to get them inside. Despite repeated discipline, the behavior continued, unless I was there to watch him like a hawk each time (which I could not always do, since I also had an 18 month old daughter at the time.) Bad neighbor strike one.
We also run a business out of our home, and get a LOT of shipments in. This creates not just boxes at our front door to be taken in, but also a lot of recycling on garbage day. Again, because I could not walk, I could not carry in the boxes, or unload the recycling. My husband works 14 to 16 hours every day, so he felt it appropriate to give those chores to my son (which I do not feel unreasonable.) However, being a 13 year old boy, he just dumped the recycling out in the front yard without consolidating it or securing it (yes, I told him to do so and even showed him how.) On two separate occasions, it got windy overnight, and the recycling ended up all over the neighborhood. I did pick it up the first time, and made him pick it up and apologize the second time. it has not happened since, but I still have another bad neighbor strike against me. In addition, while I was surveying how far the packing peanuts had been blown, two of our neighbors were talking, and one of the whirled around (they probably thought I was watching them or something) and it startled me so much that I jumped, and then tripped over a box of clothing that I had yet to unpack. Not sure if that is another bad neighbor strike, but it probably adds a creepy neighbor title in there somewhere. It is at this point where I start noticing the neighbors, who had been extremely friendly to everyone, including us, and always outside, were suddenly never outside anymore.
Next, I decided, very stupidly, that I would build my own fence to save money. Why I thought that was a brilliant idea, I am not quite sure, know....I can't really walk very much. *eye roll at myself* I did get the fence done, but it took FOREVER. (Like, a month. I know, right?) Needless to say, I am sure that having my backyard a construction zone with landscaping equipment everywhere was probably another strike on the bad neighbor board.
Finally, the landscaping was in, the fence was done, the dogs were contained, I finally had my son doing his chores on time and properly, and I'm keeping up with the yard to make it all pretty. I had this feeling that me not seeing the neighbors outside was because of me, but I told myself, "Don't be silly. They are nice people. They are friends with everyone on the block. You are being overly sensitive, and it probably has nothing to do with you." Until of course, on July 4th, when I went outside to do some yard work, they were all outside with their son, having a good time. When the wife saw me, she nudged her husband, gestured towards me, so he looks at me, and turns to his son and says, "Ok, we'll have to come out and have fun later!" Then, they pack up everything and go back inside. Whoa.
Shortly after, we found out that my son had to have spinal surgery, so the yard work had to be handed off to my hubby. His idea of "mowing the lawn" is waiting until it is at least 10 inches long, mowing the flat surfaces in the front yard only, and no edging or weeding. When I spoke to him about the fact that he either needs to be doing all of the yard completely or hiring a service, he said a service is too much money, and he doesn't care what the neighbors think.
I think of the list of what makes a bad neighbor, I think we've hit all except playing loud music at 2am. I'm incredibly embarrassed about it, and really want to make it right with my neighbors. I've fixed most of the actual problems, and now that my son has recovered to the point where he can walk by himself again, I can take over mowing, etc. I know actions speak louder than words, so I'm doing the things that I need to do in order to be a "good neighbor." However, is that enough for me to get back the friendly report with my neighbors, or do you think I need to go farther with either a letter, or knocking door to door to apologize in person, and bring cookies or whatnot? Any advice? I tried looking this up on Google, but it only has advice on how to deal with bad neighbors, not how to go from being viewed as bad to being viewed as good. Thanks and sorry for the LONG post!

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Yes, you were irresponsible in many ways. If you are going to have dogs, a home business, etc. those come with responsibilities.
The lack of controlling your dogs (even if you assigned the chore of walking the dogs to your son, they are your dogs, your responsibility) probably led to mayhem, dog poop in neighbor yards, and was dangerous for the dogs.

You have apparently fixed the issues, but I think you are right, actions speak louder than words.
Trying to rush friendship without taking the time to show that you truly are committed to responsibility (What happens if your foot issues flare up again?) may just solidify the justifiable bad feelings the neighbors have.

If you are doing yard work, why not just make it a point to keep your yard immaculate, and to be outside working on your yard at a time when the neighbors are likely to be outdoors?
If you maintain the yard, keep the dogs from running loose, etc., the neighbors will take notice and sooner or later they may wave or come over and talk.
You can't rush trust and friendship, you have to earn it.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:53AM
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You don't sound like a bad neighbor to me -- a bad neighbor is someone who thinks only of themselves and takes no responsibility for their actions and the effect of those actions on others. You sound like someone who not only sees the impact of their actions, but takes also responsibility for the actios, feels badly about them, and really wants to see them change.

If you talk with as much "ownership" of your stuff as you write with, then I would say you have a very good chance of being able to rebuild (actually "build" because you just moved in) relationships with your neighbors. One by one, I'd start having conversations with them -- i.e. when you see one of them outside use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself and "own" the stuff that's gone on and it's likely effect on the neighbors/neighborhood. Explain the medical issues that contributed to the problems, and acknowledge that it must have looked like you didn't care at all when nothing could be further from the truth. Add in your plan for how you see these matters being attended to going forward. Ask them if there's anything else that might have escaped your notice, since you've not always been in a position to observe yourself. Really listen to what they say, and respond as you have to any previously unknown problems as you did above to the problems you were aware of. Then give it time. If you have made a good impression on the neighbors that you talk to, they'll start to change the way they talk about and view the incidents that have happened, and (I believe, anyway) the waves and smiles will eventually return. Your actions might even result in making a friend, or two.

Everybody has times that their actions don't characterize who they really are. It's unfortunate that your time for this to happen was also when you were making a first impression, those can be pretty hard -- but not impossible -- to repair. Give it time and they'll come around.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Here is a similar story from the neighbors perspective:

We had a neighbor move in next door and the first week I brought over a basket full of veggies from my garden as a "welcome to the neighborhood." We chatted, they were nice enough. Soon after we had an "incident" with their kid that was very poorly handled by the parents. We snubbed them and so did the rest of the neighborhood because I told everyone what happened at a neighborhood get-together (not sure if they had been invited or not). I was still pretty pissed at that point and now feel badly about gossiping.

At Christmas they brought over a loaf of something and I threw it in the trash - again, still pissed. They try to small talk with us but we cut it short and go inside - less pissed but now we've developed a pattern.

The thing is, they never addressed the problem properly and never apologized for it. I won't go in to details but they were in the wrong and know it based on statements that were made at the time of the incident. They just made excuses but never apologized. It was more of a, "Oh well, kids will be kids and we have no control over them."

The best thing you can do is to deliberately go to the door of your neighbors - not a casual "bump in" on the street, and make your plea. Apologize with NO EXCUSES and promise to do better. I truly believe I would be speaking to my neighbors right now had they simply apologized. We wouldn't be friends because they are really weird but speaking all the same.

This is all assuming a good relationship with your neighbors/community is important to you.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 8:59AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You might be able to repair things somewhat if you persistantly keep at it, but, it's not all you. It's your son and husband that have done the majority of the damage. Unless they are on board with their own behavior modifications, then you're stuck with the labels that your family fully earned. You are a judged as a family unit, not merely ''that poor sorta nice lady with the wierd family that doesn't give a crap.''

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:13AM
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If you get a chance to make small talk with them, acknowledge the problems and apologize and use a light tone. Something like, "I'm so sorry for starting off on the wrong foot. I'm so embarrassed, and I can see why you think of us as the neighbors from hell. I'm sure you know how it can be with teens and husbands, but that got out of control in our household when we hit the rough spell will injuries and illness. I know how bad it looks, but I hope you can see we're fixing that now, and hopefully our bad luck spell is over. Again, so sorry for the messes and chaos." They may be able to empathize a bit with that approach, especially if you keep up with being a good neighbor now.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Agreeing with hollysprings. You are who you are unless you change. Are you going to be forever literally cleaning up after your family?

Apologizing for specific things is great in some instances but it isn't often practical. Your neighbors might be mad about stuff that you don't even know about. From either side of the fence or in any situation I have learned some times you just need to "let go" of being mad and not expect that person to specifically apologize. Just let it go, life is too short. If a person starts to behave better, forgive and move on.

If your family as a whole wants to be better neighbors by the neighborhood standards than that will go a long way in repairing any damage done. Perhaps what you could do is invite all the neighbors over for a BBQ. If they come fine, if not invite them again some other time. Go on with your life. Smile, wave.... if they wave back, great, if not, who cares.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:57AM
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You had an injury, your 13-year-old (13!) wasn't handling the chores like they should have been handled, your husband works long hours, you did DIY instead of spending money.

& your neighbors nudged & pointed & said, audibly, "we'll have to go in now & have fun later", & you think you're the bad neighbor?

Although it's uncomfortable to be on the wrong side of neighbors, I think it's worse to apologize or explain things to people who act this way;
they inevitably see it as a sign of submissiveness & they'll be on your case for every little 'infraction' from now on.

Take them a plate of cookies or whatever the neighborhood tradition is, smile broadly, be friendly & chatty, & act like you have no clue that they're anything other than delightful.

but don't turn your back on 'em.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 12:57PM
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I think people are forgiving if things change for the better. So like it has been mentioned, keep your yard very nice, keep your boxes and your dogs in your yard and smile pleasantly or say hi when you see your neighbors. Eventually they will come around so keep that in mind because it is easy to get your feelings hurt if you feel you are on the "outside."

You and your family have had a hard year and I feel bad for you. But it seems you are on the right track. Also many people have a very soft spot for young kids so having your toddler out with you when you putter in the front yard can't hurt.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 9:58PM
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Don't worry about what the neighbors think of you.
You had a bit of a hard time with all the set backs, and all of you have to figure out what duties you have to do.
Just live your life the best you can, keep your dogs in their yard, and don't inflict yourself on your neighbors.
Everything else will settle down and it will all be history if you just take care of your business.
Don't knock on any doors, you are inflicting yourself again. Get it?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:15PM
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Remind me not to move to your neighborhood because your neighbors sound like judgemental jerks. I think it's perfectly acceptable to mention in passing the health issues you've had and how you are so glad that's past you because a messy yard and unruly dogs are not typical for your family. However I think you are worrying way too much about what your neighbors think of you. It's your house. You pay for it and if you don't to spend time on your yard that's totally within your right. (The loose dogs are an issue but besides that who cares?)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 10:29PM
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I'd hate to live in that neighborhood. Talk about being petty and judgemental!, let's hold a grudge and make it miserable for everyone by telling everyone in the neighborhood. They made a kind gesture and you weren't gracious enough to accept it. People do things differently, your way may not be the only way.
Glad I live in the country.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 12:07AM
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Just stating the other side here - I don't want to live next to somebody who lets there dogs run free. Nor do I want to live next to someone who lets their trash loose on the street. Do people really put their trash out days ahead of time? Aren't there ordinances about that? I know in my town you can't have your barrels out before 5 am or after 8 PM. And we have a leash law in town.

I don't know about the norm where you live, but you would also be blacklisted in my neighborhood.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 8:00AM
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I think most of these posters are being way too charitable. First, you shouldn't have dogs you don't control. Second, you need lessons in parenting. Your son is also out of control. I wouldn't want you in my neighborhood. (IMHO)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 9:27AM
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We have a very laid back and friendly neighborhood, but what your family have been doing would definitely land you on the blacklist.

Sounds like you have very thin margin to handle any set back. Are you stretched yourselves too thin in term of energy, time, money, responsibilities to be in the type of neighborhood you are?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 10:15AM
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It's possible your neighbors are upset because they think you might be breaking several possible ordinances in your town. Make sure you have the proper permits for a home-based business (very unpopular in neighborhoods, particularly with frequent delivery truck traffic), and that your town allows four dogs in a house. Also, did you get a building permit for your fence? Maybe you should ask your neighbor specifically what is bothering them. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Your horse long since left the barn. You missed your opportunity to make good neighbors when you first moved in. You could have talked to your nearest neighbor and explained your health problem. You could have asked if there was a teen in the neighborhood that you could have paid to walk the dogs - on a leash. For that matter, you could have instructed your son to walk them on leashes and paid him. You could have asked if someone had a recommended yard worker. In short, you could have asked for help. People love being asked to help.

You've been waaaaay too lenient with your son and husband. I'd have ripped them new ones for adding to the situation. However, if your husband doesn't care, it's doubtful he'll change. Try moving and starting over with some rules for the males in your house.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:14PM
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You have wonderful neighbors that allowed you to trash, devalue and terrorize their homes since you moved in with out calling the authorities. Be thankful.

Now is a great time to show you can turn around how you treated them. Walk your dogs one at a time on a short leash and smile and wave. Remember even friendly dogs are not welcome to poop and pee all over your neighbors yards, walks plants steps porches etc. They are probably tired of children being knocked or or run down by them too. You have a long battle to repair what they put up with.

Same with moving their quiet street to the industrial zone. Trucks coming and going and trash left piled up and blowing in their yards. While walking the dog pick up the trash you see on the street.

And if no one is willing to now or keep up the yard. Ask on garden web for low maintenance front yard designs.

Sorry to be harsh but your family did make it hard for everyone

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:31PM
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Woah, judging from some of these posts, the OP has no other option than to move, and while she's at it, get rid of her husband and son, too.

To the OP: It's great that you are aware of how things may have given you a bad rep and that you are willing to remedy the problem. many people would not.

I'd talk to the neighbors and tell them pretty much what EmmJay said. If they're not gracious enough to accept your apology, keep on being friendly, but write them off. Talk to the other neighbors. There must be some friendly souls.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Settle down, Crabgrass. Sounds like you are getting your act shaped up, but it's wrong for you to carry the load and let DH and DS cause you stress because they don't help enough. They need to be as invested in this as much as you. It's a matter of family pride, so wake them up!!! Nothin' you can do about the past, but you can correct things from here on out. Don't talk to the neighbors about it or apologize. Actions speak louder than words.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:43PM
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Yes, while actions speak louder than words, that doesn't mean that an apology is not in order, followed by the appropriate actions.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Sorry to sound unforgiving, but I have two 'bad' neighbors and one horrible, sleazy, completely trash 'neighbor'. If I thought for a minute that any one of them would change their behavior based on my talking to them, I would in a heartbeat. None of them give a hoot in heck.

Crabgrass's situation is the reverse. If she can manage to bring the husband and son in line, I'd advise knocking on a door or two and inviting neighbors over for a talk about her situation. However - and this is a big however - if husband's and son's behavior doesn't change, don't look for forgiveness or understanding.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:02PM
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@Crabgrass Killer: I think the real problem is that you have too much on your plate. You said your husband didn't care what the neighbors thought (about his style / lack of lawn mowing) - that seems to be translated to your son - with him letting the dogs run loose, to the cardboard recycling.

So you say your husband works 14 hrs a day, and you have a home business - and you can't afford a lawn service. How can you afford the house?

I think you could apologize for the things that have happend in the past.

But it still sounds like you have too much on your plate - and 'events' will continue to happen because your overbooked.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:05PM
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Wow. Glad I live in a more URBAN neighborhood - where being a "good neighbor" means keeping your distance and respecting privacy. Maybe just exchanging a nod or a smile ... Or not - putting them on "ignore" is socially acceptable too! It's an urban thing - when there's so many people living so close by, its like you have to tune out A LOT. Otherwise you'd be stressing out BIG TIME over all the annoyances.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:16PM
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As the saying goes

Fences and Hedges Make Good Neighbors

You've made a good start with the fence, which presumably has helped considerably with your dog problem.

If you take other steps to keep the neighbors' eyes out of your place and your stuff (including pets) out of their places then there is nothing left to cause affront except the trucks. Which may not be bothering anybody, only sure way to find out what they want to say to you is to ask them.

Instead of assuming or guessing.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 3:34PM
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Thanks for all the responses! I'm amazed at the difference in opinions on here, but it's good to see every side.
Here are a few things I'd like to clarify:
1.) We take our trash out the night before-- no sooner than 9pm, and no later than 11pm (though, I hate to do it before 10, since 11 seems very late to haul trash to the curb.) The windy night happened during the night of us taking the trash out in a timely manner, and the trash being picked up at 6am the next morning.
2.) I seem to have gotten through to my son. He's been very helpful (up until his surgery, and as much as he can after.) So, he's been making sure that his chores are done first thing when he gets home, and first thing in the morning when he gets up on the weekends.
3.) I did try to contain the dogs with an electric fence at first, but that just made them not want to come inside. The wood fence that I built has really solved most of our problems, save for the occasional time when one of my dogs goes under the fence. I always watch them while outside, and snag her the moment she tries to escape, to make sure that she doesn't poo in the neighbor's yard. I also fix whatever part of the fence that she has found to get under the moment I figure out what area it is. But, I COMPLETELY agree-- dogs should never be loose. This goes beyond poop, but for the safety of everyone-- children, other dogs, my dogs, my neighbors. We have not had an issue with loose dogs though, for quite some time, and my son was punished for it by taking away internet and all screen time for over a month.
4.) I can honestly say that our yard has never gotten to the point of knee length because either I go out and mow, or crab at my hubby to get out there and do it whether he wants to or not. I always follow up with edging, since he seems to not know how to use a weed wacker. The only time this did not happen was when I was at the hospital with my son, so the edging did not get done. (It went a week without the edging being done, but no longer than 4 inches max.) Before my son's surgery, my son and I would alternate taking turns mowing, so it was being kept up.
5.) I would say that we get deliveries every day, however, if there are a lot of them, I always bring them in-- they never sit out for longer than a few hours. We purchase broken computers on ebay, fix them, and then resell them. This means that our shipments are usually smaller boxes, not huge boxes in large quantities. But, the couriers are just your local fedex/ups trucks. Nothing huge like a freight truck or something.
6.) As for following ordinances, before we owned our own business, I was a legal secretary, so I always follow up on city ordinances before I proceed with any project that I do. In our area (which is an unincorporated area of the city we live in, we can have up to four dogs, four cats, or five animals total before needing a license to own more. We also do not need to have a permit to build a fence unless it is over six feet tall. My husband wanted to have me build the stairs off of our deck myself....which I probably could (with a city permit.) I told him no way. I'm hiring a pro team, who can come in, build it, and be done in a day. Not worth the hassle!
I've added some pics of the landscaping I've done, so that you guys can see how the yard usually looks. After re-reading my post, I realized I made it sound like I had a jungle of weeds growing in our yard. ;)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:27AM
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And then this is the front.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:29AM
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And the back.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:33AM
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Sorry! One more thing-- azmom had asked if perhaps I'd stretched myself too thin and perhaps we'd gotten into a neighborhood that we couldn't afford. At the time we bought, no. Our business is doing quite well, but we could not foresee my medical issues, or my son's' surgery, or having to help my mother who had fallen into hard times herself. (Just got the total amount today for my son's surgery, and it's over 200K.) Had we known, we probably would have not put our budget so high. But, you never can determine the future, and our expenses now are actually about the same as when we were renting. Luckily, though, my son's recovery is going *really* well, and we have fantastic insurance. It's not that we can't afford a lawn service-- it's that we are a wee bit frugal. Plus, when my foot cooperates, I enjoy doing the lawn. I get exercise, and some sunshine, and I enjoy nothing more than looking at my yard when it's all trim and neat and thinking "I did that!" :)
I did, however, talk him into getting a lawn service to fertilize and put weed preventative on the yard. They start this week!
As for me stretching myself too thin-- always. :D
Again, thanks for everyone's opinions, both good, bad, and ugly! It gives me a lot to go on, and I think the game plan will be to take a few months, show that I'm willing to do what needs to be done, and then follow up with apologies and I liked the BBQ idea. And, if after I've made strides, and the one particular neighbor still doesn't come round, well. there's nothing I can do about that but make peace with it. :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:55AM
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Okay, I'm getting a different idea from all of this.
I think what you've done is actually no big deal and your neighbours probably don't care. But YOU feel self-conscience about it, so you are reading things into your neighbours behaviour.
Maybe when they went into their house when you came out, it was just a coincidence and they were about to go inside anyway. Maybe they said "We'll come out and have some more fun later" to their son and it had nothing to do with you. They just happened to look over at you before they said it.

It's easy to misinterpret others actions when you feel guilty about something.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:23AM
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Heavens. Maybe your earlier actions were a problem, but there's no problem now with how your yard looks!

Someone commented about taking your toddler outside, and I have to agree. A cute kid is an easy conversation starter. I would not do a big mea culpa about your past actions -- just be yourself and relax. No one is perfect.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:21AM
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I was just thinking along the same lines as Greg.

Your pictures helped a lot. Your place looks very nice now.

It's hard to know for sure what you are experiencing without being there. I can see a neighborhood being annoyed with the loose dog situation, and that taking awhile to settle down.

Either way, you can't fix the past. All you can do is be good in the present. So I'd smile and wave at your neighbors, and make a few attempts to be friendly. Hopefully all but the most cold-hearted people will see that you're making an attempt.

Based on the gracious way you conducted yourself here, I have hopes this will sort itself out for you in real life. :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Here's my take on your situation:

1. No one can know the future and you surely can't be faulted for injuries, illnesses and the expenses they incur.
2. You've done a beautiful job of your yard, front and back. Kudos!
3. You've successfully 'educated' son and husband. Applause for that!

Now you have two options:

1. Continue with your 'good neighbor' policy of keeping your property in order and your dogs confined. That would do it for me. I don't need to make friends, just live peaceably.
2. If you want to open the Pandora's box of potential next door 'friends', then proceed with invitations to coffee, tea or BBQ. I'm not big on this option as you have no way of knowing if this will present new and different problems.

You have a lovely home, your yard is nicely kept and your dogs are no longer a nuisance. If I were you, I'd leave well enough alone. You've done well. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:11PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

Your house is beautiful. And your fence looks wonderful. Time will heal things and if they decide to be bitter about things that have happened in the past, then that's a reflection on them and not you.

I have neighbors that leave their trashcans on the curb all week long and never move them. It is what it is. I could call and report it. I could throw a big stink. But I just realized life is too short to get up in arms about trash cans.

Good luck & glad things are going well for you now!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:20PM
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Thanks guys! After ruminating over their behavior, reading your posts, and then looking over my old photos (glad I took them now! :)) I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that I can do is keep doing what I'm doing, and not let her behavior bother me. You are right-- I might be overly sensitive about something, or maybe I'm dead on. Either way, at this point, I'm doing everything I can, and really can't change her mind about me, if she doesn't want to change it. And, do I really want to have a friend like that anyways?
I think I will take up the idea about taking my daughter out to play more often. Thanks again for all the posts-- I very much appreciate the input! :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:30PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What about carefully writing a polite letter, explaining everything, explaining the steps you have taken to address the situation, say you are really trying, and ask, "can we please start over as neighbors?" Mail the letter to the neighbors involved, and wait and see what happens. Most people would appreciate it and give you the benefit of the doubt, and warm up a bit, if not 100%. It might be a start.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Unfortunately, first encounters stick like glue, and it takes a long time to reverse opinions. There are studies about this. And while your most recent posts indicate you're a solid citizen doing all the right things, your initial posts sounded like the only adult in the house worrying about what the neighbors thought was wounded. And trust me, people look at what 13 year olds are doing and start worrying that in a few years they'll be driving!

From the initial posts to the most recent posts is like night and day. But if your hubby sometimes lets the grass go too long, that's a problem. If your son does the chores but is sometimes as careless about it as he was with the boxes flying all over, that's a problem. You live in a beautiful home. Neighbors are likely to watch what you did the first few weeks and think the worst. If it continues even once in a while, they'll view it as a problem. And if your neighborhood is like mine - even the trash and recycling bin being up against the front of your garage would be an issue if that's where it's kept all week.

All you can do is continue to try to be a good neighbor, make sure you follow up with what your son is doing and keep on maintaining the property. Perhaps you can befriend one of your neighbors and ask them to help you organize a cookie swap in the fall or a block party before it gets too cool. Sometimes that's all it takes to turn things around.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:55PM
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It takes a lot of gall (& manners far worse than the manners of someone who's so worried about her neighbors' opinions that she posts a detailed list of her 'transgressions' & asks for advice) to demand that someone defend the amount she paid for her home, to accuse her of buying above her means, which includes a hint that maybe she's also bought above her "station", that she's not socially fit to live where she does.

What country & what century is it now?

Since OP has experience in the legal profession, she probably knows this already, but:

put anything in writing that acknowledges that you're
'guilty' of anything,
responsible for anything,
regret anything,
have done anything that needs rectifying.

As I said earlier, be nice, & don't turn your back on them.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:35PM
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Agree 100% with Sylviatexas. Some of the posts on this thread make me glad I live near nice neighbors. We help each other. If someone transgresses a norm, we gently let them know. The neighborhood works by cooperation. A few times a year we have a street party. Otherwise, live and let live. The judgments about the poster were harsh, if not cruel. Let's be kind to one another and helpful instead of assuming we are superior. Wow is all I can say after reading this thread.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:49PM
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Agree. A little bit more compassion wouldn't hurt.

To the OP: You've had a lot of stress, move, illness, child's illness, work, etc. You're doing a great job!

As an aside, when I look at my husband, his friends, and colleagues, I can honestly say that when they were 13 years old, they did things that were a lot worse than "letting the dogs out." They have turned into kind, responsible, successful men, with doctors, judges, scientists, engineers, and even a minister and a high-ranking police officer among them.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:32AM
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I sometimes regret not being friendly (other than the occasional wave, and hello) with my neighbors, but it is oh, so nice not to have to worry about conforming so lavishly to neighbor's expectations.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 11:00AM
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Wow! It's interesting how people view the OP's situation; she actually had to defend herself. I wonder, how any of us would handle what she's been through without a few bumps in the road? She's turned things around and that's ALL THAT MATTERS. Today, the present. Life is too short! Crabgrass, smile and wave and and live your life:-) We all know many others won't care enough to rectify the situation... SylviaTexas, way to go!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 11:55AM
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I have to chuckle a bit because the yard was never really that much worse than in the pictures there, except one time in the spring when everyone's yards seemed to pop up with weeds over night. We all took care of it the same day. The worst thing was the dogs and then the trash two times on a windy overnight-- both were bad instances, but were taken care of promptly the following day and apologized for. However, I do appreciate some of the harsher comments on here, because I can see how extreme people can form opinions without considering any other possible scenarios that could be happening over at the neighbor's houses. Granted, I probably explained things in the worst way possible, but one persons's worst is another person's "not too shabby." But, I now have insight as to how people may think, and can go from there.
As an aside, that same neighbor that snubbed me had their dog get loose, run amok in OUR yard, take a gigantic crap (while running....I was impressed at it's multitasking abilities) all while the husband was running and panting trying to get it back (I swear, I thought he was going to have a heart attack) with his pants falling down, and when he finally caught the dog, he picked it up (a very heavy basset hound) he carried it back to his house, waddling with his pants around his knees and butt hanging out the entire time. She came up, apologized multiple times, was very embarrassed, and I said, "Hey, no big deal! My dogs have gotten loose before, happens to the best of us." I'd say this was why they ignore me, but the ignoring happened before this did. It's funny how hypocritical people can be. ;)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Well, maybe those neighbors are now avoiding you because they're embarrassed. :)

Shortly after we moved in, my kids were playing with the neighbor kids and the kids from across the street. I guess one of the kids from across the street didn't like my kids "taking" the neighbor kids away, so he threatened to get a gun and shoot my kids. Now, this kid was all of three, so I wasn't worried, but I did tell his mom, who apologized, made him apologize, and then never let him play with my kids again.

Shortly after that, the man who lived on the other side of us came over and asked about a car parked in front of our house. I told him it belonged to the family who lived across the street and was used by someone who worked nights. He called and reported it abandoned several times. After the second or third time, they started throwing the ticket in our yard, then they started unloading stuff from their cars into our yard and leaving it there for hours or days, including some trash that they never picked up. They were Hispanic and we (and the neighbor) are white, so I'm sure they thought we were racist.

The older neighbor moved out and the calls stopped, and my hope that they would realize it hadn't been us and warm up a bit did not come true. Our older sons had been playing together, but their son started being horrible to mine, calling him names, saying he was a racist, etc. It eventually culminated in physical violence. I went over and said I didn't know what was going on with the kids and I didn't expect anyone to be friends if they didn't want to, but violence was not acceptable. The dad seemed kind of dismissive at first, but we talked for a few minutes and eventually I brought up the car situation. I told him about the neighbor calling, said that I didn't care where he parked since he didn't block my driveway, etc. (They do park too close to our driveway sometimes and it makes getting out hard, but it's nothing illegal and nothing to make a fuss about in my opinion.) He seemed a bit more willing to listen to me after that. Our kids play together again. I'm pretty introverted so it wasn't easy for me to bring that up, but I'm glad I did. We're not the super-friendly neighborly types, but we'll help you out and always be cordial, and I hope that we can all have that relationship now.

My point is, sometimes people hold grudges over perceived wrongs, and while I don't think you're guilty of anything, nor do I think you should admit guilt, clearing the air can be helpful if you're still worrying about it. If your neighbors are snooty and judgmental, there's nothing you can do about that, but if you're anything like me it's nice to know that it's not me, it's you.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 2:21PM
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Yep! I'm right there with ya-- it's nice to know if it's something I've done so I can correct it, or whether it's them, then I could care less.
I'd like to think of myself as a like-able person, and sure I have my flaws. But, I'll take the high road, and kill them with kindness. And, if they are lucky, I'll make one of my famous loaves of lemon bread. They are irresistible- if THAT doesn't win them over, nothing will! :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 4:24PM
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crabgrasskiller- you are living in stepford! it sounds really horrible!
i had a neighbor move in that let her aggressive dog run into the street when we walked by and was never apologetic plus it was outside all day and barked to no end. you do not sound like that sort of dog owner. i would guess that most people have had a loose dog once in a while and clearly you addressed it.
re trash, in our neighborhood we all put our trash out sunday night. the trash pickup time is random and can sit around all day. when it is windy, yes trash does sometimes blow out. no big deal, someone picks it up and we don't tell other neighbors on each other.
you are probably never going to be besties with the neighbors but do you really want to be? i would just do my own thing and move on.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:20PM
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I agree with ardcp! You are not the problem! Your energy is better spent with your own family, on your own home and your own business. Your neighbors aren't worth the expenditure. People are so uptight these days about every little thing it makes me crazy! It's not worth it. Really, nobody else has ever had their trash blown around when it's windy? Nobody else has ever had a dog get loose? It happens. It's not something to condemn someone over.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:55PM
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Does the chicken wire get caught up in a weed whacker or lawn mower? I was thinking about doing that, but then putting landscaping pavers and mulch to make some landscape beds, to deter them from trying to slide underneath. The wire that I used is such a pain when it comes time to mow and edge.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:06AM
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My back yard has no grass so I don't know. It is all either mulch, garden or deck. The wire is all covered by mulch.
It works well not only to deep them from going under the fence but also from digging holes. There is one area (not right by the fence) that isn't fixed with the wire fencing and they know where it is and dig there, that is their spot for digging and they know it is OK.
The landscape staples are sold on Ebay, you can get boxes of 500 or 1,000 for pretty reasonable cost and they do well at keeping the wire flat, but I don't know if a mower would get caught up.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:25AM
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I've seen it recommended that you bend the chickenwire in half, like an L shape, and bury the bottom half about 4" underground, then attach the other half to the base of the fence. That way they can't dig under it and I would assume that would keep it from getting caught in the mower.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Four dogs in a residential neighborhood is two too many in my opinion. I don't even think our city allows that. Honestly, I wouldn't want someone living next door to me with that many dogs period. Do your VERY best to make sure they never run loose, bark, dig and please pick up after them when you walk them.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 1:22PM
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What possessed you to post, stir_fryi?

just wanted to disapprove of OP?

Four dogs are within the regs in her city, & nothing in her posts says that she lets her dogs run loose or bark or that she doesn't pick up their poop.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:14PM
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One of the wonderful things about this neighborhood is that it is very dog friendly. I'm one of many who has four dogs-- all four of mine are small dogs, whereas some people have big ones. I cannot think of a single neighbor, save one, that does not have a dog.
Mine bark when someone comes to the door, but they quickly hush. When outside, I have one dog who gives one soft "woof" when she is ready to come in from the backyard, otherwise, they will sit by the door and wait. This is rare, though, because I'm usually out there with them when they are out.
The most surprising thing about my neighborhood is that, for how many dogs we do have in the neighborhood, we actually don't have many "barky" dogs. I guess I never thought about that before, but it makes me appreciate it now that I do! :) We have one family who lets their dog poop in everyone's yard and doesn't pick it up (I've caught her twice in our yard) and then another family has another small dog that will come up to you in your yard, do it's business, and then bark relentlessly (during the day) at you-- but I haven't seen it for a while, so I wonder if they moved.
Mine, however, have been trained to the point (now) that I let them outside this morning, after I was done mowing. I guess when I shut the gate, it did not latch, and all four dogs, were just laying in the back yard, not even thinking about leaving. It was a proud moment for this puppy mama. ;)
Now, if I could get them to stop jumping into my raised garden beds and eating my tomatoes and watermelon leaves, I'd be set!
sylviatexas-- thanks for sticking up for me so much! :) It gives me warm fuzzies!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Hmmm - your yard looks a little barren. I suggest - get thee to the landscaping forum, and get some trees and shrubberies in there ASAP! A nice combination of flowering shrubs and evergreens, one or two more substantial majestic trees. Not that you're going to completely block out the view of your neighbors, but just give yourself.... and them.... a little psychological distance. You want to soften all the hard edges and create more of a sense of protection and security and peace.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Stir fry

I have 5 dogs.

I think that the OP going through the time and expense to make a fence shows that she realizes it is important to keep them in.
In my opinion it is OK to mention how important it is not to let dogs run loose,(because of not only neighbor issues but safety issues for the dogs themselves) but after the OP built the fence and is asking particulars about how to fix so they don't dig under, she is obviously got it all going on the right way.
I'd be happy if she was my neighbor.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 3:43PM
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This thread has been very, very interesting to read and although I like to think of myself as a pretty understanding person, hopefully it will remind me that often, circumstances impact how other people behave in ways that won't necessarily be obvious to us. We moved to a new home about a month ago, and noticed that our across-the-road neighbors had quite a bit of random yard furniture and building supplies stuffed into their front porch. It does look rather messy, although it doesn't bother me much (our neighborhood tends to be pretty casual). It was only about a week later that I realized these neighbors were having a new garage built, and had torn down their old garage. Now, I'm sure that's where the front porch items came from and I bet they'll make their way back to the new garage once it is complete. Had I judged my neighbors harshly based on first impressions, I would have not only been unfair to those neighbors but also would have denied myself a potentially good neighborhood relationship.

One thing that I do think is interesting is that some people in this thread have mentioned not wanting to form closer relationships with neighbors specifically because they don't want to be held to higher standards of behavior or maintenance (as opposed to simply wanting more privacy, etc.). I'm sure that there are plenty of examples where this is the case, and neighbors will bully their "friends" into conforming with how THEY believe the neighborhood should look and behave. But, I think that more often than not, it's the other way around, and people will be more understanding of individual circumstances when they better know the people involved.

My office actually had a workshop-type meeting at work this week led by a professional workplace consultant (not sure of her official title), with the intent to "improve office civility" that touched on this very point. The consultant brought up the example of what happens when someone cuts us off in traffic. Our first reaction, usually, is "What a jerk! That moron doesn't know how to drive." But if we then notice that it's actually a friend of ours, or something that we know and think well of, then we might decide that "There must be something wrong; perhaps he or she is late to something really important, or there's some emergency, or he or she simply made a mistake" or something along those lines. In other words, if we don't know a person, we are more likely to attribute poor behavior to the person him or herself. But if we do know a person, we're more likely to attribute poor behavior to an accident, emergency, or mistake.

Of course, that's not the case in many situations, but perhaps it's worth thinking about. If I were in OP's position, I probably would put some effort into rebuilding relationships with my neighbors on a one house at a time basis (although I certainly wouldn't kill myself trying to make nice). But that's just because I enjoy my home more, and feel more comfortable in it (and especially spending time in the yard and garden), when I feel like I have a good relationship with the surrounding families. OP is certainly under no obligation to do so, however--this type of thing is so individual.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 5:00PM
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I couldn't agree more about my barren yard! We were deciding between this home (new) and another home that was built in 1996....that had a gorgeous, private, huge yard, but the house itself was about half the size of this one. I've planted peach trees along the side, and then some redbuds, so in a couple of years, once they fill out, the yard will be much more private. I also planted a wisteria vine that will climb along the fence, and I want to add an arbor eventually. My goal is to have it be not completely closed off, so that it looks like you can peak into a little secluded, peaceful calming area, without it being unwelcoming. I can't wait to have the whole thing done! :) Takes time, money,and any other season other than summer in Georgia! HA!
kmarissa-- I completely understand what you mean with rash opinions. I often find it helps to not assume someone is a jerk in traffic, but rather think, "Maybe their wife is in labor?" It helps. I am originally from South Dakota, where everyone knows everyone, and we all look out for one another, so this is a little unusual for me. I am sure that with time, I'll get friendlier with the neighbors. Maybe not all of them, but I'm sure a few will come round. ;) And, hopefully, I'll find someone on the block who enjoys tomatoes, because I'm growing a ton of them, and I don't know what to do with them all!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:30PM
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Crabgrasskiller, I was just wondering what if anything you did?

After reading this post the first time, I decided to do something about a somewhat similar situation. Except mine was that I had forgotten a hair appointment that I had made 6 weeks prior. I guess I hadn't set the alert on my phone and just totally forgot. I called the shop the day after and left a message with someone but she didn't call me back. Then later, I tried again and left a message on her machine and she didn't call me back.

I figured she was ticked because of the time she had allowed for me made her miss out on income. I decided to call her one more time before I gave up and just found a new salon. I had to leave another message and didn't expect to hear from her. But she called back later and when I started apologizing she laughed it off and said that happens and she hadn't given it a moment's thought.

I don't know why she didn't call back the first two times I called, unless she just never got the messages. And in the meantime, I built it up that she was ignoring me.

I hope you find that there aren't really any hard feelings with your neighbors too.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 12:37AM
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Let me tell you a story about bad neighbors. My parents live on a slightly snooty street. Due to a long and wacky chain of events, one house on the street ended up owned by a foreign corporation. For lack of any better ideas, they used it as a "perk", a vacation home they loaned out to good employees. Thing is, these employees were all on vacation...none saw maintaining it as their job. When people complained, none spoke English. Neigbors got pissed and gossiped endlessly.

The company found out, and gave everyone a box of candles every Christmas. Now everyone likes them.

The moral is...your reputation can be trashed by small things, or saved by it. Since they don't know you, these details are all they have to judge you.

DON'T give them all a note. Seems weird. Be generous on Halloween with candy so the kids like you. Offer to have your son shovel out elderly neighbors in the winter. Give gift baskets to new neighbors who move in. If you get friendly with any neighbors who are traveling, offer to feed their cat. If you get friendly with anyone in the neighborhood, mention that health problems when you moved in got in the way of maintaining the property too much. Don't give too much details.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 4:07PM
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Gosh this thread makes me wonder if my neighbors all hate me. Everyone keeps to themselves here so it's thought to tell! We don't have a lawn crew like everyone else...the lawn gets mowed when my husband feels like it. Luckily we have a fence and they can't see what an absolute MESS the backyard is. I've had trash blow around the neighborhood by putting out a bag of trash in the morning and coming home mid day to find crows had picked it apart. My bad and we got a big rolling plastic bin thing.

Gonna admit, the loose dogs would make me very angry. Once could be an honest accident, anything more than that is unacceptable. Many times I have taken my dogs for walks and been charged by someone else's loose dog. My dogs do not like other dogs, so that is a recipe for disaster....if a loose dog every caused a fight with my leashed dogs I would be enraged. Also if I ever hit a loose dog with my car...I can't even think about that. So I am glad you put up a very nice fence and hope that will resolve that.

Good luck to you- I would just keep doing what you can to be a conscientious neighbor and would try to not let the "shunning" bother you too much, if it continues....if people can't forgive some small transgressions, that's their problem.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 4:35PM
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