Other Peoples’ Renters


My next-door neighbors have a very narrow drive that borders my property, and that their downstairs renters use to get to the lower parking area behind the house. They also have a hedge that separates their lawn from this driveway. And, although there is plenty of space down below to turn around, the renters will often back up this narrow driveway. This is what happens:

garden damage

That piece of slate on the sidewalk doesn’t look that big, but it weighs about fifty-sixty pounds. Note that the straw bale (which isn’t part of the garden design–it’s to make the renters aware they’re not in the driveway, but on my lawn) was originally behind the log, but someone has backed out and plainly didn’t seem to care that they were dragging a heavy, wet straw bale with their back bumper.

garden damage 2

I put the bale there last week, when two girls in a grey Volvo station wagon drove over the garden and forced some of the very heavy pieces of slate onto the sidewalk. I was standing there looking at them when they did it. Did they stop? No. The giggled, and drove away. I had thought that the log would be enough to make people aware (do you not notice when you’re driving up over a log?), but I guess it wasn’t.

garden damage 3

So, I took these images this morning after the latest damage, and I wrote a letter to my neighbors (the owners, not the renters) because I realized that with the fairly tall hedge blocking their view, they probably have no idea this is happening. My theory is that hedge, which is easy to see and hear scratching against the side of the car, makes the renters over-correct when backing out, and end up on my lawn and in my garden.

It is difficult to believe the renters (and their guests) don’t know they are doing it, and so far I have yet to see a single one of them stop, apologize, or offer to help fix the damage they’ve done. It’s not a difficult thing to turn around down below and drive out instead of backing out, but apparently they just don’t care that they’re damaging my property.

So, after re-assembling the rock-work, pulling the bale, mulch, and weed barrier back in place, and trying to repair the mud holes, I’ve placed a couple concrete blocks behind the bale while I consider my serious barricade options.

My wanting-to-be-a-good-neighbor streak thinks I shouldn’t put anything there that would truly damage a car (say, puncture a tire or tear a hole in a plastic bumper), but my tired-of-fixing-this-every-couple-days streak says that if they don’t care that they’re damaging my property, perhaps their property should be damaged in the process of damaging mine.

But, I’ll wait until the owners come back from wherever they are and see if they can think of a happier solution. I don’t want to start a war, and I hardly believe that my complaining will make the renters respect my property more, but I just want to stop the damage, and stop having to lift and replace a sixty pound block of slate every couple days.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on June 9, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Hopefully you will get some resolution from the owners. Typical renters, most don’t give a darn. Have you tried some of those blue driveway reflector markers? They aren’t the prettiest, but maybe it would help. Or have someone haul some big boulders in there. They hit one of those they will know it. My parents had trouble with the snow plow hitting their rural mailbox every winter. Dad got tired of replacing the post and mailbox and finally found a solution. He made a hollow post out of thick steel he welded and filled it with concrete and attached the mailbox to the top. It has lasted more than 20 years! That first winter after the “remodeling” project the snowplow hit it and literally bounced off. Never a problem since. Maybe you need some good steel and concrete.

  2. Posted by Cory on June 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I’d suggest a couple metal fence posts with a little blaze orange paint on the top. It is visible to an attentive person backing up, and if you hit one it will at least scratch the crap out of the bumper. Then you’re not doing anything nefarious and they get fair warning that they are about to damage their car instead of your lawn.

  3. Posted by flyingtomato on June 9, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the advice!

    The owners called me today and were very apologetic–having had no idea it was happening. They’ve already spoken to their renters.

    I am still thinking about a big cast iron pipe sunk in the ground (it’s a planter!). Whatever I do, I want to try to make it look reasonably nice. But I did pull a big metal fence post out of the backyard just in case! πŸ˜‰

    –Rebecca

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