Sunday, May 22, 2016

Be A Good Neighbor

Most people like to be good neighbors. They keep noise to a minimum, wave hello to their neighbors, take them cookies when they move in, and keep an eye out for people with moving vans emptying their house while they’re on vacation.

Those are all examples of good neighbor behavior. What you do in your landscape can be good neighbor behavior too (and I’m not just talking about keeping your grass mowed).

I was walking through my 1-acre woods last week and I noticed an alarming amount of stilt grass coming up. I’ve worked hard over the years to pull up all previous infestations before they could set seed and by last year there were only a few sprigs. A creek wraps around the edges of my property and this new infestation looked suspiciously like it could have come from seeds that washed onto the land during high rain flooding.

Stilt grass, ready to discharge seeds into drain

Several days later, I walked along the street and realized that the neighbor above us has let stilt grass grow with abandon under his trees, right next to the drain that flows into the creek. I no longer need to wonder where those seeds came from. Letting weeds flourish in your yard has consequences for the people around you. I imagine that was the gist of noxious weed laws, but we don’t need laws to tell us how to be good neighbors.

Just like weeds flow off your property, so does water. A friend was recently describing how residential construction uphill from her was causing permanent water flow changes affecting her property and others.  What kind of neighbors would do that?

What gloom! Those are some of the things that bad neighbors do. What can good neighbors do for each other and for their less noticeable neighbors: the birds, bugs and butterflies? How about these items:

  • Grow butterfly/moth host plants to benefit butterflies and moths and to provide caterpillars for birds.
  • Grow fruit-bearing native trees for birds.
  • Remove fruit-bearing invasive plants so that they don’t spread around.
  • Grow nectar plants, grouping them in groups for larger impact and beauty too.
  • Avoid using pesticides; they harm bugs while over-spray and run-off contaminate other areas like neighbors’ property.
  • Keep your native plants tidy so that people can see that they make beautiful landscape contributions.
  • Tell your neighbors about your plant choices and why they’re important to you and to wildlife.
  • Stop using that gas-guzzling blower and get some exercise with a quiet broom. You’ll be kinder to the environment, to your neighbors, and the time you spend sweeping will give you a chance to listen to the birds.

Invasive Callery pear fruit two doors down

If you were your neighbor, how would you feel? Would you be glad to have you for a neighbor? If you were a bug or a bird, could you get what you need? Here’s to being a good neighbor, for all the neighbors, large and small.


  1. First I've heard of stilt grass. Thanks for the warning.

  2. What a great post. I wish I could give my neighbors the list you have here. I hate the gas powered blowers, the poor birds must hate them too.