Neighbour's misery, owner's pride?

Neighbour's misery, owner's pride?

Whether you have a balcony garden or window boxes, it pays to ensure that your favourite hobby does not cause discomfort to your neighbours. A Dyuti offers tips on how to raise a home garden without having your neighbours come to you with complaints.

Proud of your green thumb and the sheer number of plants you have in your house? Ever wondered about the discomfort it could be causing to your neighbour?

I hadn’t either! Until recently, when I met a friend who complained about the weevils from her neighbour’s garden wafting into her kitchen along with the breeze! It got me thinking about how our garden can spell umpteen miseries for our neighbours. Surely, we ought to take steps to avoid this. Here are some measures.

First tackle the most common problem — overhanging branches. Sure, branches drooping into your neighbour’s territory are welcome if they bear fruit and flowers there. If not, the shedding of dead leaves, twigs and sprigs are seen as a nuisance. I remember how an overhanging coconut tree-frond from my neighbour’s yard would brush against my window spookily besides casting eerie shadows, keeping me awake all night. Take care to prune such nasty branches and fronds. In addition, keep the trees and branches lining the borders free from pests and insects lest they bother your neighbours.

Nurturing a lawn? While laying the grass seeds, conceal them from birds with a thin layer of straw, soil or peat moss that the winged visitors may not merely keep off your green patch but also refrain from invading surrounding gardens in pursuit of greener pastures. Avoid using hay too for this purpose. It may contain dried seeds of weeds that may infiltrate into neighbouring territories besides ruining your green nook.

Eliminate weeds to discourage encroachment into surrounding areas by carefully uprooting them by hand. Regularly snipping off the green portions of weeds discourages speedy revival. Pick pests by hand and kill them if you are into organic gardening. Or, spray them away with water or natural, home-made repellents. Else, use pesticides. Create conditions that lure helpful birds and bees. Do you have a vegetable garden? Then, what about the rodents and bandicoots infesting them? Have you taken adequate steps to prevent them from foraging for goodies that lie beyond the frontier?

Balcony garden

If you boast of a balcony garden, ensure that it doesn’t interfere with neighbours’ peace and privacy. Use soft lighting. Avoid protruding bamboo sticks/wooden stakes. Make adequate arrangements for excessive water drainage preventing seepage into the floor below. Pots/containers should have drainage holes at the bottom. Empty the drip pans/tray of water once outflow ceases. Spread a plastic sheet with layers of jute rugs over it beneath pots to aid excess water absorption.

The drained water shouldn’t creep into your neighbour’s balcony or seep down through their roof. Ditto with a roof garden if you’re occupying the penthouse. Avoid plants with an overpowering fragrance. Use plant screens for privacy. Regularly prune stems to prevent their encroaching of your neighbour’s territory. Playing music while relaxing in your balcony garden maybe an interesting idea. But, make sure you don’t ruin your neighbour’s peace by turning it on too loud.

In the balcony, don’t opt for hanging baskets that provide for a direct outflow of water from the bottom onto your neighbour’s floor below. Look for pots with drainage pans attached to the bottom. Plus, select spots that prevent such dripping. If your basket drips when watered, insert a plastic sheet between the wires and the soil. Make sure the basket is not too fragile and can be firmly fixed at the desired spot. Remember, the basket’s weight will increase once you water the soil. So, select a spot that’ll hold this weight and fix it firmly. The basket shouldn’t land in someone else’s territory if and when the hook gives way.

Window boxes

Inhabiting an apartment and practising gardening in window boxes? Then, choose a box that’s sturdy and securely attached to your window. A gust of wind can send a tottering box from an apartment-window reeling down onto the floors below. It could also endanger people walking/driving below. Clip trailers regularly such that they don’t grow too long to your neighbour’s discomfort. For plants that need more drainage than others, arrange for a window box planter that allows additional water outflow.

If your rooftop garden is a full-fledged garden, prepare the surface prior to planting by waterproofing it. Proper drainage pipes should also be laid over the roof slab. If water doesn’t drain properly, stagnation can damage the roof. Next, placing a layer of burnt bricks with a wire-mesh network nestling upon the waterproofed surface is essential.

Only then can you cover it with a blend of lightweight soil and manure and start planting. For rooftop container gardening, locate the load-bearing joists to place heavy containers on. Supplement with hanging baskets and topiaries after determining the maximum load particular spots on your terrace can endure. Select only plants with fibrous roots here since the danger of the tap-root growing down through the roof exists!

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