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Complaining about the neighbour’s yard

Carson Arthur

I had a great conversation recently with a distraught homeowner complaining about their neighbour’s yard. They were desperately seeking some advice as to how to handle a next-door neighbour with an unkempt yard because they were certain that the home was hurting their property value.

This is such a tricky subject. Your neighbour’s property impacts the value of your own space. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much you can do about it. There are definitely all kinds of bylaws and fire prevention codes around long grass or overhanging limbs and you can always try contacting a bylaw enforcement officer. Just remember that your neighbour may have a different opinion or sense of style when it comes to curb appeal.

There is some good news however. Real estate agents agree, that while the homes directly beside you are very important to buyers, they will also take into account the appearance of the rest of the neighbourhood.

Maybe you don’t want to fit in with your neighbours and need a little extra something in your front yard. Here are a two of my favourite scenarios and the way that I like to make them work

I’m not a fan of those gardens that look like they belong to a hoarder. You can picture the ones that have planted toilets or bathtubs. Basically, the homeowner seems like they want to save everything and put it out on the front lawn for everyone to see.

That said, what is old is definitely new again in outdoor design. I have been known to include rusted items in a garden bed or even on a wall if they are graphic. The key to making these types of ‘found items’ work is to tuck the item into the plants so that they look like they are being taken over by nature. It gives the space a ‘post-apocalyptic’ feel and allows you to let things get a little shaggier. I also love when creative homeowners put items like old benches into discrete parts of the yard and just let them naturally deteriorate. It always makes me feel like that bench has been there for years and has stories to tell.

To often you drive down a quiet neighbourhood and see the one house that has incorporated every colour of the rainbow into their front yards. These spaces scream for attention. Definitely not everyone’s style, but there is something to be said about creating a space that has energy and makes you notice them. However, I prefer to do these types of makeovers in the backyard. You can still go for bold in the front, but for the sake of your neighbours, just try and limit your colour explosions to the front door or even the planters. If you must have more colour than that, a great way to have some fun is to create a ‘niche’ in the garden bed and fill it with a crazy art piece. Tuck it into the garden so that when guests come to visit, they don’t immediately see it and actually discover it as they walk around your home.

What we like in our homes is completely subjective. What may work for you may not work for you neighbour. Compromise is key. I am a strong advocate of making homes look like they belong together and yet still have their own personalities.

-Landscape designer Carson Arthur is host of HGTV’s new Home to Win show. He is also the outdoor expert with City TV’s Cityline and wrote the sell-out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living in 2015. More at
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  1. Susan says:

    Carson Arther will be at the Picton Fair Sat Sept 9 from 9 till noon

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