Things Your Neighbors Secretly Hate About Your Yard

Your home is a sanctuary. It's a place you can style how you wish, safe in the knowledge that what you do to your house is nobody else's business, right? Maybe not. Peeking through the curtains of the other houses on the street, your neighbors could be thinking something a little different. In fact, these thoughts may not be good at all.

Living with neighbors can be a blessing. But they can also be a curse. Whether or not you deserve it, there are things about your yard, and probably yourself, that your neighbors secretly hate. Luckily for you, that is the way most of them will keep it — secret. It takes a very special person to complain to relevant authorities that they don't like the new paint color you've chosen for your house. 

While that is a nightmare scenario, you need to know that there are things about your yard that are brewing neighborly venom. These include your unkempt lawn, excessive bonfires, raucous parties, and the fact that you haven't taken down your holiday decorations yet. If you're guilty of doing any one of these things, chances are, your neighbors hate your guts.

Lack of yard maintenance

Your front lawn is the first thing your neighbors see. They drive past it on their way to and from work. They walk past it on their morning jog. They stare at it out of their windows. Your front lawn says a lot about your home and your priorities as a homeowner. If the grass is overgrown and the landscaping unkempt, your neighbors are not going to like it.

Obviously, if you live on a large swath of rural land, this isn't a problem. In suburbia, however, having a tidy lawn is an unwritten rule that neighborhoods take very seriously, even if you don't. Effort needs to be put into maintaining your lawn and the landscaping that surrounds your house. Overgrown shrubs, bushes, and the like can make a yard look extremely unkempt, even if the lawn is emerald green. Plus, depending on where you live, neighbors can call public officials to force you to take care of your overgrown yard because you're violating city ordinances.

Here's the thing you need to understand: no one wants to live in a neighborhood that has "that" house. The ones that are just plain ugly, not because the house is poor, but because the yard is overgrown and gross. If you had a house like that in your neighborhood when you were growing up, think twice before putting off that lawn mowing another day. You don't want to be "that" house.

Too much junk

In conjunction with keeping your yard tidy, you need to make sure that it is also not constantly filled with junk. Whether it's your kids' toys, your latest car repair project, tools, lawn equipment, trash containers kept out too long, or junk piles that grow with each passing week, you need to understand that the state of your yard is making the neighborhood look bad. And when you're making the neighborhood look bad, your neighbors are gonna take issue. 

We're all busy. No one's denying that. But if everyone else is managing to find time to keep their yards free of mess, why can't you? It's akin to being the group member who put no effort into the school project but still got credit because the teacher graded the team. Everyone knows you did nothing to deserve it, and it created animosity because your lack of effort made the whole group look bad. 

Neighbors like to live in clean areas where they aren't greeted by the sight of a decaying swing set, trash, car parts, and overall mess. They want nice places to live and won't take kindly to anyone who makes it look bad. 

Too many bonfires

Though having a fire pit in your backyard is undoubtedly going to add social and even financial value to your home, there is a limit on just how much you should be using it. If you are having fires every single night during the spring and summer and one too many during the fall and winter, it can cause your neighbors to become rather cross. Here's why.

Not everyone enjoys the smell of wood smoke. And next to no one loves it when said smoke finds its way into their yard or house. If your neighbors have the windows open and are trying to enjoy the fresh air of a spring evening, having the smoke from your fire pit waft in and stink up their house is going to make them angry. This is especially true if you're burning green wood, which creates terrific, thick smoke when burned because it's clung on to moisture.

Neighbors also don't like the noise that a fire pit can bring. If you limit your fires to one per week, using properly seasoned wood, no one is really going to mind. Also, if you let your neighbors know in advance and even invite them over for a drink by the fire, you'll be making inroads. And the more inroads you make, the less they'll dislike it every time they see you prepping for a bonfire.

Too many late night parties

Now, if those excessive bonfires of yours last well into the night and come with their fair share of, shall we say, beverage-induced noise, your neighbors are going to start getting miffed. Because if there is one thing that neighbors hate more than smoke wafting into their houses, it is the sound of parties lasting far too long. There is a certain amount of courtesy that comes with living in a neighborhood. If you are constantly throwing raucous outdoor parties or cookouts that last far longer than they ought to, you aren't being very considerate of your neighbors.

You could also be breaking the law. Nearly every town in the United States has some law on the books prohibiting exorbitant amounts of noise. If you're throwing loud parties that last into the wee hours of the morning, your neighbors have every right to call the police on you. According to NoLo, most legal noise ordinances establish quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. And, honestly, your outdoor party should be wrapping up no later than 10. 

Like campground etiquette, neighborhood etiquette needs to be taken into consideration as well. You're not gonna get kicked out of your house for having one too many raucous parties, but you certainly aren't going to be making any friends among the neighbors either. So, try to keep things low key, and be respectful of others. Your neighbors will thank you for it. 

Too many flood lights

Outdoor lighting is a necessary part of homeownership. It can increase the safety of your property and add a comforting ambiance to your outdoor spaces. However, one can have too much of a good thing. If your house is lit up to the point where it can be seen three neighborhoods over, you're going to be having some issues with neighbors from across town. 

If light pollution from a city can stretch for miles and miles, imagine what the excessive amount of floodlights you have on your home will do to your small neighborhood. One or two good lights that provide enough illumination to see where you are and are strategically placed to deter burglars are more than sufficient for any home. Lighting up your house so that it is bright enough so that your driveway looks like 8 a.m. when it's 10 p.m. is a bit much. Light bleeds and can very easily affect the houses surrounding you and the neighbors within when they're pointed in the wrong direction.

If all of your floodlights are igniting every time a raccoon scampers over to your trash bins or a leaf blows in the wrong direction, the neighbors are going to have a problem with your lighting. You could be the immediate cause of your neighbors' sleeplessness, and loss of sleep is not going to ingratiate you with anyone.

Too little privacy

A fine line needs to be balanced between the next two things on our list. The fact is, your neighbors could be seething over either one of them. We're talking, of course, about the notion of privacy. How much is too much? And conversely, how much is too little? We'll examine the latter first. No one likes an exhibitionist. At least, most people don't. If there is next to no privacy in your yard to speak of, and you aren't really doing anything to change that, it could be very off-putting to the neighbors.

We understand that there are those neighbors who are very nosy. We also understand that your home having very little privacy might be a great way for them to get a peak at what goes on in your yard. Hopefully, their intentions are about sussing out how much better your azaleas are doing than theirs and not anything nefarious. You could also run into trouble if your neighbor spots your security cameras set in their homes. They have a right to privacy as much as you do. 

Still, if your yard is wide open to your neighbors, your kids are constantly throwing balls into their yard, your dog is running rampant, or if they are trying to have a peaceful night in their own backyard but can see directly into yours, perhaps it is time to put up a fence.

Too much privacy

On the flip side, too little privacy is too much privacy. If this sounds strange, hear us out for a moment. If someone moved into your neighborhood and immediately blacked out all of their windows and put up a fence so tall that no one could see over it, you'd be a little suspicious wouldn't you? Well, that is how your neighbors might feel if you are taking your privacy to the degree of being anti-social. Nowhere is this more evident than with a big fence in the backyard.

Like neighbors themselves, fences can be both blessings and curses. How can a fence be a curse, you ask?  It can be a curse if you build one that is higher than the other fences in the neighborhood. People are drawn to things that have a symmetrical logic. It's one of the reasons why nearly all neighborhoods have fences that are the same height.

It may seem like nitpicking, but asymmetrical fence lines genuinely bug people. A fence that is too high will likely make your neighbors feel like you are hiding something, but it will also throw off the symmetry of the neighborhood. It may seem strange to say, but too much privacy and asymmetry in the sight lines of the neighborhood is definitely something that is going to aggravate nearby residents.

Removal of desirable trees

There are always going to be trees that folks want to get rid of. Trees that are keeping the garden from getting enough light, casting too much shade over the pool, or posing a danger to the property because they've grown too large or become diseased. However, if you are preparing to cut down a tree that not only adds scenic value to the neighborhood but also provides good shade, you're going to be in trouble.

Shade trees are very important in neighborhoods with hotter climates, such as those in the southern or southwestern United States. These trees can help lower energy bills in the summer by providing natural cooling. It's what makes them so desirable in the first place. Therefore, if you start hacking away at someone's shade tree, even if it's on your property, you are going to draw their ire. However, there is nothing worse to a neighbor than cutting into a boundary tree.

According to NoLo, boundary trees are those that sit along the property line of two houses. What this means is that, in order for anything to happen, both property owners need to consent. If you start hacking away at the branches hanging over your yard, that is a big no-no. You absolutely cannot touch that tree without your neighbor's permission. If you do, you're gonna have some issues.

Gravel scapes

If you live in an area that is extremely hot and arid, and therefore, water retention is vital, you are going to want to think twice before turning your yard into a gravel scape. Gravel scapes, or rockscapes, are those landscaping features that shape or amplify your yard by using rocks and gravel. When done correctly, they can really add some much-needed dynamism to the yard. However, if you're excessive with the rocks and gravel, your neighbors are going to hate you for it.

One of the things about having rocks as opposed to grass is that rocks will naturally increase the heat of an already hot place. So, if the sun is beating down on your neighborhood, the rocks will radiate that heat throughout the street. Neighbors are not going to take too kindly to the fact that you are adding even more heat to their house.

Plus, there is the fact that a gravel scape is not going to hold onto water the way a lawn might. This is why they make for great drainage features, but you should not turn your entire yard into one. If you're creating runoff because you thought stylistically rather than practically, you're not going to be your neighborhood's favorite person.

Front yard vegetable gardens

We are going to add a disclaimer here. We think that the logic against front yard gardens is totally flawed. We see absolutely no reason why front yards, especially if they are the ones getting the most sun, should not be loaded to the brim with flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables. Because, honestly, what looks more attractive than an abundant garden? However, there are neighbors who disagree with us on this fact.

The thing is, just as neighbors prefer symmetrical fence lines, so too do they prefer orderly and conforming front lawns. They like squares. They like green. They don't like vegetables. Sure, pea plants and tomatoes can get unruly, but what's the big deal when they're providing sustenance for a family? 

Vegetable gardens do not provide the aesthetic most neighborhoods strive for. For that reason, we can concede somewhat to the issues at hand here. People want stylish, ornamental plants as opposed to unruly ones teeming with vegetables. Still, unless you live in an HOA with strict policies governing the look of your front yard, plant the garden. Your neighbors can deal. Plus, you'll certainly be able to make neighborly inroads by offering some of your garden's bounty. Then they might not hate it so much.

Unending projects

There is much to be said for home improvement. When done correctly and with care, it can actually improve your home. However, constantly having construction happening at your house, with the debris and flotsam strewn all over your yard, is likely going to make more than a few of your neighbors inwardly cross. Home projects should be done with relative swiftness. If your projects are continuous, get bigger in scope, and expand longer than they were originally intended to be, then there are going to be some issues to be had with your neighbors.

That being said, when the projects are finished, they should add to the overall scenic improvement of the neighborhood. If you've decided to instead put a gazebo smack in the middle of your front yard, it's going to throw off the whole look of the area. Likewise, if you add too many ornamentals to your lawn, repave your driveway improperly, or paint your house a lurid color, neighbors are certainly going to judge your sanity.

However, there are ways to extend an understanding hand to your neighbors. If you let them know, well in advance, what the project is and the overall scope of the construction, they are likely to be more forgiving if things go awry because of weather or material delays. Just be courteous, and your neighbors will hopefully follow suit. 

Year-round holiday decorations

Okay, that huge skeleton you put up for Halloween? That looked pretty cool. We may have been a little wary of it staying up through Thanksgiving, but when you strung it up with string lights and put a Santa hat on it, we forgave you because it was funny. But now? It's February for crying out loud. How long are you planning on leaving that thing up?

This little scenario may seem like an exaggeration, but let's be honest, we've all had those neighbors – the ones who leave their holiday decorations up all year long. We may have understood why they did it on a practical level. Why take down the Christmas lights if you don't have to? Still, that doesn't mean we actually enjoyed the fact that Santa or the skeleton were still occupying the front lawn.

There is a season for everything. It's typically good fashion to remove your holiday paraphernalia about a week after said holiday closes. The week provides just enough of a window to allow for the effect of such extravagance to wear off. And wear off it will, a lot sooner than you might think. 

Overly complex (or poorly-timed) sprinklers

While your neighbors will probably prefer an automatic sprinkler system to the sight of you overwatering your lawn every day, there are limits. The best automatic sprinkler systems are those that are easy to operate, don't water excessively, are quiet, and generally keep to reasonable hours. This is easy enough to accomplish because most automatic sprinkler systems come with adjustable settings. However, if you have an overly elaborate and poorly timed irrigation system, things with the neighbors can get testy. 

If your sprinkler system kicks off too early in the morning or too late in the evening, it's annoying. If it's far too loud, it's annoying. If the water pressure is such that it soaks your neighbor's driveway and coats the sidewalk, it's annoying. Sure, your grass will be green and luscious, but your neighbors aren't going to be too happy with you. 

Overall, there is no telling what some neighbors will secretly hate about your yard. Honestly, there are some things that they hate that might not even be your fault or that you cannot change. Still, what we've compiled on this list should provide a good indication of what not to do when it comes to maintaining neighborly peace.