Top 8 Tips on How to Be a Good Neighbor

Simple tips for keeping the peace with the folks next door.

How to Be a Good Neighbor

How to Be a Good Neighbor

Maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors has many benefits.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/CSA Images/Color Printstock Collection

©iStockphoto.com/CSA Images/Color Printstock Collection

By: Ryan Reed

Unless your house sits on 20 acres out in the country somewhere, chances are you have neighbors who live nearby. And as you probably already know, your relationship with them can greatly impact your quality of life.

Sure, we all would love to live in a Pleasantville-esque neighborhood where everyone has a picket fence and your neighbors waive to you on your way to work, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes your neighbor throws wild parties until 3 a.m., or they let their pets use your lawn as their own personal bathroom without cleaning up.

That’s why I feel it’s important to brush up on some common-sense tips to help you be a better neighbor and solve issues that may be keeping you up at night.

 1: Introduce Yourself

How to Be a Good Neighbor

How to Be a Good Neighbor

It's always a good idea to introduce yourself to your neighbors and exchange contact information.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino

©iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino

If your neighbor hasn’t introduced themselves within the first week of moving in, make plans to pay them a visit the following weekend at a reasonable time to avoid interrupting dinner or after work/school activities.

The goal of this meeting is to learn their names and hopefully exchange contact information. This will be helpful if you have questions about the community or more importantly, the number for a great pizza place. If you’re lucky, they may go with you and introduce you to other neighbors.

The longer you wait to do the introduction, the more awkward it will become. This is especially true if you live in an apartment complex where you’re more likely to pass each other in the hallway or get stuck in an elevator together.

If you’ve lived at your residence for a few months and you haven’t introduced yourself to the neighbors yet, break the ice by bringing them a gift, inviting them to game night or organizing a garage sale.

 2: Be Civil on Social Media

Your neighborhood probably has a group Facebook page and you should absolutely join it. It’s a great place to learn about your community, sell items that you want to get rid of and get recommendations for repair/maintenance services.

What you shouldn’t use the group Facebook page for is to constantly complain about your neighbors or post snarky comments. This sort of commentary can cause a rift among neighbors.

 3: Talk It Out

In-person communication is key to maintaining a positive relationship with your neighbors. If you’re having a party, cutting down a tree, replacing a fence or anything that might remotely affect your neighbors, it’s wise to inform them ahead of time. You don’t necessarily have to ask permission, but they will appreciate the timely update so that they can prepare and share any concerns.

 4: Exterior Upkeep

Two-Story Porch Adds Curb Appeal

Two-Story Porch Adds Curb Appeal

A red front door adds a splash of color to this charming Cape Cod with a second-story porch. Major curb appeal points are awarded for the neatly landscaped mailbox and window boxes.

Landscaping and pressure-washing may not be your favorite things to do, but the exterior of your home is what your neighbors see most of the time so it’s wise to keep things looking clean and well-kept. If you have a hectic schedule, there are services you can use for both pressure-washing and lawn care.

On the flip side, if you love working in the garden and know your neighbors don’t, offer to give them a hand or bring over some extra flowers to plant. It’s a great way to get to know them better.

 5: Neighborhood Watch

This step is all about looking out for your neighbors and their property. If you know your neighbors are out of town, be extra vigilant and keep an eye on things while they’re gone. This can include everything from calling the fire department if you spot smoke inside the home to simply collecting packages from their front porch so they’re not left out. They’ll have peace of mind and hopefully return the favor when you leave for vacation.

 6: Pet Friendly

Having a pet is a great way to meet the neighbors out on walks, but they can also cause problems if you’re not a responsible owner. It should go without saying, but always pick up after Fido if he/she goes to the bathroom on a neighbor’s lawn. Also, try to be mindful of their barking, as well.

Repair Pet Spots In Your Lawn

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Has Your Best Friend Damaged The Lawn?

Pets are integrated into our love of home. When their activities cause a bit of wear and tear on your grass, there's no need to be frustrated. Here are a few tips on dealing with pet damage in your lawn, and ways to prevent it in the future.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Water May Be the Fix for Dead Spots

Many pet owners find an abundance of dead spots due to "fertilizer" burn. The ammonia and salt in pet urine can quickly kill grass, especially during hot, dry weather. Keep the lawn watered during dry spells to eliminate drought stress and salt buildup. One inch per week of rainwater and irrigation combined is sufficient to moisten and flush salt from the soil. If possible, irrigate after heavy pet "use."

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Maintain Good Fertility

When stress factors increase, it becomes even more important to maintain optimal soil fertility for the lawn to repair itself. Get your soil tested annually and fertilize according to the soil test results.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins.

Overseed

Overseeding thin grass or dead spots will help bring your lawn back to its former grandeur. Keep pets and other traffic off of newly seeded areas for a month or so, until the seed germinates and grass becomes well established.

Replace Dead Grass

For stubborn spots, or for a quick fix, you can cut out the dead areas. Remove the sod and a few inches of the soil below.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Add Good Soil

Once the bad spot has been removed, add fresh topsoil to the cut out area. Level the new soil, leaving enough depth so that the new sod may be placed flush with the existing lawn.

Trim the New Sod

When the new sod has been laid in place, trim the edges so that it matches the existing lawn. Water new sod daily for the first two or three weeks until it has rooted in, after which it can be watered on the same schedule as the rest of the lawn. Like seeding, it is important to keep all traffic off of new sod for a few weeks until it has become established.

Photo By: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Lawns and Groundcover © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Give Them Their own Space

When pets have their own way, they could care less about a few spots. Giving them their own space to romp is like giving kids a playset. In this scenario, your pets can do what comes naturally and you have a little less to maintain.

Use Synthetic Grass

It's one way to keep a fresh look without the constant need for repair and replacement.

Photo By: Image Courtesy of Sunburst Landscaping

Not Just for Dogs

Lets face it, not everyone with pet spots in the lawn can blame it on the dog. Cats, chickens, bunnies and the rest, all add their own patina to the landscape. It is important to choose your battles early. For some of us isolating areas of use is a great option, for others repairing a few spots on occasion is a reasonable expectation. The key is in understanding the potential for damage before you are surprised by it.

©2012, Know Your Chickens, Fox Chapel Publishing

But I Don't Have a Pet

Even those of us with no pets have visitors from time to time. Moles, for instance, can be a nuisance and their presence signifies plenty of life below the soil surface. One of the best control methods is simply to smash their raised tunnels as often as they appear. This method avoids the use of poisons which may do unwanted collateral damage to beneficial creatures.

Squirrels Dig Your Yard

Even squirrels, which are nearly impossible to un-invite, can do a number on your lawn as they dig and bury their treasures. Like mole tunnels, the best solution is to step on the divots (and pull up the saplings that inevitably emerge). 

A Happy Home

Whether you repair, replace or remove your grass. A proactive approach to dealing with pet spots in the lawn is the best way to ensure a happy home for you and the animals you love.

Photo By: Courtesy of High Country Gardens

 7: Noise Control

If you have shared walls, people who live under you or both, be mindful of the noise you create. As I discussed in an earlier tip, let your neighbors know if you’re having a large gathering so they know what to expect. Noise from appliances and walking with heavy shoes can be just as annoying, especially late at night or early in the morning. My advice is to operate large appliances, like a washer and dryer, at reasonable hours of the day, and wait to put on your boots until you’re ready to leave the house.

 8: Parking Protocol

People can be very territorial over parking and few things will sour a relationship with your neighbor quicker than parking where you’re not supposed to. Common courtesy is the way to go here, and you should always use the space assigned to you. If you need extra parking for a guest, ask your neighbor in person or shoot them a text to get permission. Few things are worse than coming home with a car full of groceries only to find your parking space taken by someone who doesn’t even live in your building.

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