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Posted here in finance... because it could become a financial issue pretty quick:

Wife and I own a home with an older single lady as a neighbor. About four years ago, neighbor installed a fence, but purposely set the fence back a good 1-2 feet from the property line. Once the fence was installed, she planted hostas on her property, but on the other side of the fence (see picture - taken from our vantage point). Flash forward and now we are getting a bit frustrated because the hostas are in "our" backyard, but we cannot do anything because they are on her property.

Ideally, my wife would like control of the backyard and at a minimum would like to split them, plant a few other items, etc. Every time she brings this up, the neighbor says she take care of it later - but it never happens. My wife has two young kids, so finding time is difficult and she feels as if we are forced to have a portion of our backyard a certain way - yet cannot make decisions regarding this area.

On the whole, I would characterize neighbor relations as good and we installed a fence, which is connected to hers (she agreed to this); however, we are looking for input, as initial efforts to have a conversation have no gone anywhere.

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Wow, that's weird. She has to come in your property to plant those in the first place, right?

I seen people do this when they border public land, but not next to a neighbor.

ETA: You probably should raise the issue when she first planted the hostas but now maybe see if she is willing to move the fence and to help the matter, split the cost of doing that.

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confused what you would like

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put a fence on your property line!

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We are looking for any creative solutions the collective braintrust can offer. I see a few options:

1. Do nothing and eat it
2. Discuss the situation with conviction (and possibly loose neighborly relations)
3. Go nuclear and build our own fence

Trying to see else we are missing...

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I agree.. 

Go talk to her, and tell her you dont like the plants, and would like to do something else.  If she refuses tell her your other option is to build  your own fence, and then the plants will be between the fences.

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If you want to get rid of them, maybe get a dog and then blame the dog for ripping them up?

Or even better, "watch" someone else's dog for a week while they are on vacation and have him jack them all up. I agree with ZenNUTS, you should have raised the concern when they were installed. My question is, why did she install the fence 1-2 feet off the line? The neighbor probably didn't want to deal with coming in to your property all the time to mow the grass.

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tag1979 said:   We are looking for any creative solutions the collective braintrust can offer. I see a few options:

1. Do nothing and eat it
2. Discuss the situation with conviction (and possibly loose neighborly relations)
3. Go nuclear and build our own fence

Trying to see else we are missing...

  
I don't think his wife would appreciate loose neighborly relations and he might not either depending on how he feels about older women.

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I really have a lot of trouble understanding why:

1-Someone would build a fence 2 feet from the property line, close to her side.
2-And then would go to the other side to plant something.

It is like USA building a border wall 2 miles before Mexico border and then go to the other side and create a city with homes, factories, resorts etc.

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PSA: Always remember that 'loose' rhymes with 'moose'. Speaking of which, I wonder if a pet moose with find these plants tasty.

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Perhaps put a thick (solid colored) tarp on top of the hostas and leave it there for a few weeks (or perhaps months). The lack of sunlight should eventually kill off the (tarp covered) hostas located on your side of the fence while presumably causing no harm to the ones on the neighbor's side. Hopefully the neighbor won't even notice the tarp, but if she does and complains about it, act like you put it there to "protect" the hostas when you were doing some "painting project" in your back yard (or come up w/ some other BS excuse), and you forgot to remove it afterwards.  (Remember, your wife is very busy w/ her 2 kids).

Bonus points if you get a tarp that has pictures of (alive/healthy looking) hostas on it.  This way, if updated Google Earth type satellite images get posted to the web, it should look like the hostas are just fine! 

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tag1979 said:   Ideally, my wife would like control of the backyard and at a minimum would like to split them, plant a few other items, etc. Every time she brings this up, the neighbor says she take care of it later - but it never happens. 
  What exactly do you guys want to do with this area? What you wrote is a little vague. That might be part of the problem with the communications with the neighbor. What exactly have you said to your neighbor about what you want to do? What was her exact reply to your specific request? If there were no specifics discussed, I suggest you and your wife come up with specifics, and then ask your neighbor nicely if you can do it. If she bristles at it, ask the neighbor what she would prefer. Hopefully you can come to some sort of compromise. 

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Plant something bigger right in front of it or build your own fence? Find out what plant sucks water from other plants around it and watch them die

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PhDeez said:   If you want to get rid of them, maybe get a dog and then blame the dog for ripping them up?

Or even better, "watch" someone else's dog for a week while they are on vacation and have him jack them all up. I agree with ZenNUTS, you should have raised the concern when they were installed. My question is, why did she install the fence 1-2 feet off the line? The neighbor probably didn't want to deal with coming in to your property all the time to mow the grass.

  The hostas are on the neighbors property.  That's a great way for the neighbor to sue the OP for the replacement of the plants.   The arrangement is odd, but it doesn't change the property line.   

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IMBoring25 said:   
tag1979 said:   We are looking for any creative solutions the collective braintrust can offer. I see a few options:

1. Do nothing and eat it
2. Discuss the situation with conviction (and possibly loose neighborly relations)
3. Go nuclear and build our own fence

Trying to see else we are missing...

  
I don't think his wife would appreciate loose neighborly relations and he might not either depending on how he feels about older women.

  You quoted OP.

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Round-Up is on sale at Lowes.

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Wow people always find something to complain about, don't they? Your neighbor clearly went to great lengths to make your side of the fence look very nice. Either make your own planter bed adjacent to hers, build your own fence, or just enjoy what she has already done and move on with your life.

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tag1979 said:   Flash forward and now we are getting a bit frustrated because the hostas are in "our" backyard, but we cannot do anything because they are on her property.

and she feels as if we are forced to have a portion of our backyard a certain way - yet cannot make decisions regarding this area.
 

The strangeness of the situation aside, this is something you just have to get over. It isnt "your" backyard, any moreso than there not being a fence at all would make that land yours. Your backyard ends at the property line, even if the neighbor configured her property to make certain space appear to be part of yours.

As others have asked, how does your neighbor tend to this 2-ft stretch of her property, so that it doesnt become overgrown? And if your own yard is enclosed, in theory how would she even know if the plants disappeared - does she walk along her side of the fence peering between each plank?
  

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oko said:   I really have a lot of trouble understanding why:

1-Someone would build a fence 2 feet from the property line, close to her side.
2-And then would go to the other side to plant something.

It is like USA building a border wall 2 miles before Mexico border and then go to the other side and create a city with homes, factories, resorts etc.

  You mean like this: http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/fence-protecting-usmexico-border-puts-golf-course-out-business 

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Glitch99 said:   
tag1979 said:   Flash forward and now we are getting a bit frustrated because the hostas are in "our" backyard, but we cannot do anything because they are on her property.

and she feels as if we are forced to have a portion of our backyard a certain way - yet cannot make decisions regarding this area.

The strangeness of the situation aside, this is something you just have to get over. It isnt "your" backyard, any moreso than there not being a fence at all would make that land yours. Your backyard ends at the property line, even if the neighbor configured her property to make certain space appear to be part of yours.

As others have asked, how does your neighbor tend to this 2-ft stretch of her property, so that it doesnt become overgrown? And if your own yard is enclosed, in theory how would she even know if the plants disappeared - does she walk along her side of the fence peering between each plank?
  

  By in large we care for this area of the property during the year (weeding, spreading woodchips, etc.). At the end of the year our neighbor will come through our property (to get to her's) and cut the hostas down.

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tag1979 said:   
Glitch99 said:   
tag1979 said:   Flash forward and now we are getting a bit frustrated because the hostas are in "our" backyard, but we cannot do anything because they are on her property.

and she feels as if we are forced to have a portion of our backyard a certain way - yet cannot make decisions regarding this area.

The strangeness of the situation aside, this is something you just have to get over. It isnt "your" backyard, any moreso than there not being a fence at all would make that land yours. Your backyard ends at the property line, even if the neighbor configured her property to make certain space appear to be part of yours.

As others have asked, how does your neighbor tend to this 2-ft stretch of her property, so that it doesnt become overgrown? And if your own yard is enclosed, in theory how would she even know if the plants disappeared - does she walk along her side of the fence peering between each plank?
  

  By in large we care for this area of the property during the year (weeding, spreading woodchips, etc.). At the end of the year our neighbor will come through our property (to get to her's) and cut the hostas down.

  put up a gate. send a legal notice so it doesn't become an easement

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tag1979 said:   
  By in large we care for this area of the property during the year (weeding, spreading woodchips, etc.).

Why would you do this?

At the end of the year our neighbor will come through our property (to get to her's) and cut the hostas down.
 With your permission? 

You are very unclear as to what you want. You either put your foot down, by no longer taking care of her flowers and no longer allowing her access to your property, or you do not. There's no magic spell that'll allow you to spontaneously annex her property with her blessing.

The only semi-subtle move would be to plant your own flowers along your property line, inherently blocking her from using your property to access her plants. But even then, you need to be prepared to put your foot down when she tried to walk in your flowerbeds to get to her plants - so unless you want to put plants there anyways, you're better off saving the money and just put your foot down as-is.

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rufflesinc said:   
  send a legal notice so it doesn't become an easement

After 4 years, is it too late?  

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won't the easement go in OP's favor?

And I suspect the fence was 100% paid for by the neighbor.

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Looks nice.  What exactly is the problem? I don't understand why you are weeding and mulching though.

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Pics? ... of the older single lady.

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NoMoneyInMyWallet said:   Pics? ... of the older single lady.
Just picture your aunt

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+1 for pics (and thankfully no one asked for pics of the neighbor)

My recommendation would be to talk with her to move the fence with shared costs, and have the plants face her property. Even of the fence has to be within your property by a few inches.

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tadr said:   Wow people always find something to complain about, don't they? Your neighbor clearly went to great lengths to make your side of the fence look very nice.And she put the nice side of the fence facing his property.
  

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MilleniumBuc said:   +1 for pics (and thankfully no one asked por pics of the neighbor)


 

  You must have missed that post above yours...

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You'd count your blessings if I showed you my neighbor's fenceline. Seriously, that looks really nice, and makes your property appear larger.

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I'm not sure why your wife has issues with hostas? Just pretend the neighbors fence wasn't even there and stop looking the few feet in front of the fence as being "your" backyard. It isn't. If you want control of "your" backyard, then fence in your portion and wifey can play queen of the yard to her hearts content. How is this even a question? Neighbor did what neighbor wanted to do with her yard. I suggest you guys do the same with the land you own.

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The best way to approach this is frame the situation so that the neighbor has to suggest a solution. You definitely need to talk this through because at this point there is no reason to nuke your relations.

Like this:
You to Her  said: With the location of the fence and the plants on the outside, it makes them look apart of our yard. My wife wants to contribute and decide on some of the greenery in our yard, so what do you think we should do? Can she plant what she wants on this side of the fence and make it look nice? Or should we do another fence and flower bed? The second option is obviously very silly, so you can see our pickle!

 

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drodge said:   
PhDeez said:   If you want to get rid of them, maybe get a dog and then blame the dog for ripping them up?

Or even better, "watch" someone else's dog for a week while they are on vacation and have him jack them all up. I agree with ZenNUTS, you should have raised the concern when they were installed. My question is, why did she install the fence 1-2 feet off the line? The neighbor probably didn't want to deal with coming in to your property all the time to mow the grass.

  The hostas are on the neighbors property.  That's a great way for the neighbor to sue the OP for the replacement of the plants.   The arrangement is odd, but it doesn't change the property line.   

OP--  Learn about your state's adverse possession law, and start the chain of events that will eventually allow you to take possession of the 1-2 feet of land.

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It's not your backyard if it's on her property. You are forced to look at them from your side, I only wish my neighbor would plant something this nice along our fence. If you are tired of looking at them, put up a fence or not let her on your property to tend to them.

The stuff we in the suburbs worry about.

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tag1979 said:   ...Ideally, my wife would like control of the backyard and at a minimum would like to split them, plant a few other items, etc. Every time she brings this up, the neighbor says
 

   What is the neighbor saying she'd take care of later exactly? 

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plant weeds near the hostas. spray weeds with plantkiller on a day where wind is blowing towards your neighbors property

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forbin4040 said:   won't the easement go in OP's favor?

And I suspect the fence was 100% paid for by the neighbor.

  Any easement would grant the neighbor access to OP's property to tend to her 2-ft strip of land along the fence.  As that access has been granted since the fence was initially installed 4 years ago, OP might have a hard time fighting it at this point.Is there any question that the neighbor paid for the fence?

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OP said: ... like to split [the hostas], plant a few other items, etc.
I can appreciate how this can escalate; I've been the neighbor with the 'bad fence'.Sounds like you have a fairly amicable relationship to date, and it doesn't sound like the neighbor is watching "your" side of the fence like a hawk, looking for trouble.   I'd therefore suggest: stop asking and "just do it".   That is, go ahead and split some hostas (try not to REMOVE any, noticeably), add a few plants (I'd suggest not investing in perennials just yet!).  No major re-landscaping, of course. See how that goes.  This is certainly a de minimis trespass, akin to mowing a few feet of your neighbor's yard or raking a few feet of her leaves.Best case, everyone is quietly happier.  Worst case, she objects, tears out your plants, yells at you... you apologize, claim a misunderstanding, and build a 3-foot picket fence 6 inches in from the border and don't look over it until the weeds get too high.
 

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rated:
zapjb said:   Press the button.
  here you are sir

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