Monica and I have been living in our house for almost two years. Shortly after we moved in, one of our next door neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves. They’re an elderly couple and seemed nice enough. For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to refer to them as Edith and Archie as the woman sounds like the mother from All in the Family. During the brief initial conversation, Edith not-so-subtly asked what our plans were for the trees that border our property and theirs. At this point most of our possessions were still in boxes. I knew I had a yard but had barely walked around it, let alone made plans for how to take care of it. I had to remember how to use a lawn mower as I hadn’t touched one in maybe 10 years. We told Edith that we hadn’t thought of them yet. She made sure to tell us that the trees were on our property despite the fact that they’re on the other side of the chain link fence that also separates the two areas. It seems that the previous owners of my house had planted the trees and then later put a pool in the back yard that required a fence.

A few months go by and I forget about the trees. I don’t see Edith or Archie for a bit too because they’re old people that don’t have to worry about basic things like getting to work on time or writing blogs about how their neighbors piss them off. The next time I see Edith, she again asks about the trees. By this point, I’ve had a chance to really look at them and they’re pretty ugly. They’re old cedar trees that haven’t been maintained. Additionally, there are these nasty looking vines that have choked most of them. Monica and I make plans with her father to take some of them down when we get a chance. He comes down on some weekends and we start hacking the trees apart. Over the course of the previous spring / summer, we took down about 8 trees. There are still 4 or 5 that we haven’t touched and the stumps of the ones we’ve taken down remain.

Fast forward to last weekend. Edith flags me down while I’m mowing the lawn. Now that the trees are gone, I have a clear view of their perfectly kept lawn and they have a great perspective on the garbage that I throw on the side of my house while waiting for bulk pick up each month. This is stuff like lumber, sheetrock, and old carpet. Edith says that they’re going to have their landscaper plant some new trees and remove the stumps and the remaining trees. They just need my permission to come on to my property to do so. I have no problem with this and everything seems fine but then she throws in a few passive aggressive comments that rub me (and later Monica) the wrong way. She says “It’s expensive but I want to get this done.” and “Tell your father-in-law he owes me a bottle of wine for saving him about four weekends.” Hey, Fuck you, lady. Monica’s response to this last comment was a furious round of anger that started with “My father doesn’t owe her anything…” and continued on for awhile.

It’s clear that Edith wants me to know that she’s paying for this project. I don’t care. I didn’t offer to give her any money for it for that very reason. After discussing it with Monica, we wanted to make it clear that her landscaper can come onto our land to take down the remaining trees and stumps, but under no circumstances should the new trees be planted on our property. They’re her trees and they should be on her property. I don’t want to go through this shit a few years from now when they either move or die. Edith has been using the area just on the other side of the fence as a garden for awhile and I think that’s my property. I joked with Monica that we should let her put in the new trees and then put the fence on the property line. Thanks!

When I explained all this to Edith, she had some pushback. She said that her landscaper was going to put them around where the old trees were. I again explained that I didn’t want them on my land. She said that the trees are very small. I reiterated that I didn’t want them on my property. Then she relented and said that she guessed they’d have to plant them a little farther in. I guess so.

Now I’m going to keep an eye on this project and see where the trees actually end up. I don’t want to get a surveyor out here to verify everything. I have the original survey that was done on the house when it was built in 1957 which I can use if push comes to shove. Hopefully I don’t have to fight an old lady.