September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day, but how many of us can say we’re good neighbors? Does your dog bark at 11 p.m. when your neighbors are trying to sleep (or is that just Pippa next door to Content Writer Susie)? Do you hold loud parties every week or leave your grass clipping on your neighbor’s driveway?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may not be your street’s favorite neighbor. Build relationships with your neighbors by learning how to be a good one – or at least, how not to be “that” neighbor. Here are five awesome ways!
Be kind – Keep your noise off everyone’s mind
Did you know that in some communities, you’re not allowed to mow your lawn before 7 a.m.? Even then, you might annoy your neighbors if every Saturday, you’re up early to cut your grass. The best thing you can do is know the rules and abide by them.
Exhibit A: The State of New Jersey has a noise ordinance with a limit of 65 decibels during the daytime and from 10 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., a limit of 50 decibels. To give you some perspective, a household refrigerator is 55 decibels. A vacuum cleaner is 75, and a power mower is generally between 60 and 90 decibels. (How does anyone cut their grass in New Jersey?!)
While we all need to do everyday household chores, just don’t be “bad neighbor” – the one who parties every week with booming music, has loud solar appliances, or cuts their front yard at the crack of dawn. (Of course, everyone loves good curb appeal.)
Yes, there is such of thing as light trespass
Does your next-door neighbor have a motion-detection light that flashes on at all hours of night and right into your bedroom? No? Just Content Writer Susie?
This is a classic case of “light trespass,” which occurs when exterior light illuminates a nearby property and may be unwanted. (“It’s unwanted. Trust me.” – Susie) This can cause issues with your neighbors and depending upon your municipality, might even be against the law.
You may also want to check if your town has the ominous sounding “dark sky ordinance.” This just means your lights cannot add to the light pollution in your area by shining toward the night sky. Instead, you’ll need to buy a “dark sky” exterior lighting fixture or bulb, which will direct light toward the ground. (Your neighbors will also thank you for purchasing these!)
Dirty garbage cans and other areas attract unwanted guests
Most municipalities require you to wash your trash cans, but if you’ve been slacking or you place your trash cans just a little too close to your neighbor’s home, you may be inviting unwanted guests. Mice, racoons, and other critters may think of your home as a smorgasbord and return night after night for the dinner you serve them. Even worse, you might be encouraging these critters to take up residence in your home or your neighbor’s.
(We can neither confirm nor deny that Content Writer Susie may need to clean out her trash cans.)
The best thing you can do in this scenario is to get your trash in order. Clean out your trash cans and other food debris in a timely fashion. Do not leave trash bags overnight outside of a bin. Also, keep your trash cans away from any doors or openings in your home and keep them away from your neighbors’ home, too.
If bears or racoons routinely get into your trash, then purchase critter-proof trash cans or straps that will keep your critter diner closed.
Quick note: Trash cans in many towns must adhere to certain size requirements, so when buying critter-proof cans, make sure to adhere to those rules.)
Keep your friends close and the fire department far away
If you own a home in the town where you grew up, then you may have gone to school with the fire chief and like to say hi every so often. However, your neighbors probably don’t feel the same way. And I’m sure Fire Chief Jason wants to eat his dinner in peace. That’s why it’s important not to bring the fire department or other emergency responders to your home every five minutes.
Quick note: We are not advocating that you do not call the emergency responders when you need them. You should always do that. We’re saying there are ways to prevent the fire department from coming to your house every five minutes, which include completing routine home maintenance tasks, such as:
- Cleaning out your dryer exhaust vent at least once a year.
- Keeping your range top clean with no grease or food debris.
- Staying in the kitchen when you’re cooking on the range and following important cooking safety tips.
- Always grilling outside and at least 10 feet away from flammable items, including your home.
- Turning off any electric blankets and space heaters when leaving the room or going to sleep. (This includes napping!)
If you miss seeing Fire Chief Jason every so often, you can stop by the firehouse with a pumpkin spice latte and some cookies.
If a tree falls on your neighbor’s property and it came from your yard, you’re going to hear about it
Some neighbors live so close to one another that tree branches hang in each other’s yard and fences are constructed on property lines. When it comes to these situations, take care of any potential issues or hazards.
If your tree looks like it might fall, take it down. If your fence is missing a few planks, replace them. If you’re having a loud party, maybe invite your neighbors, so they’re not mad at the noise.
Your neighbor also has rights. In some towns, they can cut branches in their yard up to their property line. (If the tree dies from their maintenance, they have to pay for it.) They can also call the town and file a complaint if your fence falls on their property.
The point is – don’t be “that” neighbor when it comes to your property and the potential dangers you can create. We all live here together.
Stay on top of home maintenance
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