Interaction

While I was at work on Monday, I happened to run into the woman who used to live next door to us.  Even though she no longer lives in the house, she’s rented it to a several families in the last several years.  Some good, some bad, some middle of the road.  The family that’s living there presently haven’t really been all that good in upkeep of the property, so much so my wife and I have been wondering if perhaps they had purchased the house and could get away with not keeping up the house, grounds etc.

After speaking with the woman, it turns out they’re still renting, but she’s not very pleased with what they have been doing (and mostly not doing) with their responsibilities in that area.  So much so, I thought she was considering evicting them, but probably a good talking to might do better in the long run.  While I had her ear though, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the problem on her side of the fence with the knotweed that has been a continuing problem on my side.  Every spring, the green menace shoots up and by early summer it’s already bowing over my side of the fence.  Of course the infestation on her side is causing it to come up on mine, and as I’ve mentioned in a few other posts on this site, we’ve been trying to eradicate it for years.

She seemed very interested in helping out and asked if cutting it down and spraying it would work.  Yes, but its one of those invasive type plants that doesn’t take a one time cutting and spraying lying down.  It actually fights back.  Hard.  The root system goes down at least ten feet and it comes back with a vengeance if left to its own devices.  I didn’t have a lot of time to impress this on her, but apparently it made some sort of impression, since soon after I got home my wife mentioned there was someone on the other side of the fence cutting down the knotweed.  I probably should have gone out there and talked to them, but after putting in a full day at the job, I really didn’t feel like engaging all that much and besides, it was raining.

Soon after getting home, my wife mentioned that she was observing someone in a pickup and trailer getting over to the grove of knotweed and doing some pruning.  She wanted to know if there was a name on the side of the truck, just in case it was someone who might also do tree removal, as we have a dead tree on the property that needs tending to.  I got up, hobbled to the window and looked out, but I didn’t see a name to reference.  She then asked if I wanted to go out and speak to the person, engage and perhaps get a little information, but being tired from a long day at work, I really didn’t.  A little later she looked out and saw that the stand of knotweed was gone from the other side of the fence and the person had left as well.  I haven’t managed to go outside and check out the work, but I expect the person did a good job, since through the slats of the fence there doesn’t appear to be anything on the other side.  So we’re clear at least for a week or so.

Now whether this family is going to be up and moving after being berated, I have no idea.  I do know for the most part they’re pretty quiet, certainly better than some of the renters that have been there in the past.  Just have to keep observing from my side of the fence and keep in contact (as possible) with the woman as I see her from time to time.

Landscape’d

As long as we’ve been living here, we’ve mostly kept the property as it was when we first purchased the house.  Granted there have been minor changes, in that there were two sizeable trees in the front and side yard 20 years ago, but one fell down on its own and the other was leaning too far towards the house, so we had it removed before it dropped onto our roof or into the neighbor’s.  In the backyard, we’ve been fighting a losing battle against the Japanese knotweed a previous owner planted, but so long as we keep tilling that patch of ground and mulching the hell out of it, we can (for the most part) keep it from growing wild like it does on two other sides of the property on the opposite side of the fence.

Considering we don’t have a great deal of land to begin with (the lot is listed at 0.157 acres) and the house and garage take up a good deal of that space, we make do with what we have here, for the most part.  There’s an old patio behind the house, that probably could do with an upgrade, but there are other things we’ve been wanting to do first, so that’s going to get shelved for another year.  Two years ago we managed to get the driveway paved, that had been an eyesore for the longest time.  I can definitely say my old snowblower is very grateful it doesn’t have to chew through gravel and stones every winter just to keep the driveway clean.  Our walkway leading up to the house needs a bit of an upgrade, the concrete forms have heaved somewhat over the years and a few are split as well.  So far as I know, the sidewalk across the front of our property is our responsibility, since it is within the stakes that designate the property lines.  Although I do mow the strip of grass beyond the sidewalk, leading up to the street we live on, and clearly that and the trees that sit on it, belong to the village.  Just one of those curiosities when you live in a municipal area, rather than out in the country.

At the present time, and probably for the next ten days, our focus is on getting a new leased vehicle, since we have to turn in the Edge on the 17th.   Then we can get busy on making the property look nice for the visitors that we’re still looking forward to hosting for the remainder of the summer, as well as the coming fall.  Hard to believe that I’m planning ahead for autumn when it’s not even summer yet!  How times change as I get older.  At any rate, there will be some before and after pictures as things progress.  One definite thing I have to do is get someone to take down the dead tree behind the garage.  Before it falls into the neighbor’s yard.

Invasive Species

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for the past 19 years.  When we first moved in, we’d not yet purchased the house, it was a ‘way-station’ (or so we thought) because our previous rental house had been sold out from under us.  Consequently we needed to find a new place to live fairly quickly, and pickings in our area were rather slim.  As it happened, we looked a bit on our own for an apartment, but quickly discovered that any apartment that we thought about renting was going to be too small for our needs.  Between my wife and myself we have a LOT of stuff, so it’s always been better to either rent or buy a house to live in (though for the early years of our marriage, we rented houses exclusively).

My wife hit on the idea of contacting real estate agencies and telling them that we weren’t looking to purchase a property, that we were looking for one to rent, or maybe even rent to own (rent the property for a time, allow it to be shown when needed, and maybe over time purchase it ourselves if it continued to appeal to us).  We found one nearby that was receptive to the idea (most weren’t) and had the agent looking locally for one that fit the bill.  We got a call from her about a week later, and she showed us a 2-story federal architecture house that was built in the late 1830s.  It had a very small piece of property (0.17 A/0.068 ha) but it was in a nice neighborhood.  After looking over the house from top to bottom (didn’t take long) we walked the grounds a bit and noticed an overgrowth in the backyard that was seriously almost taking over completely one corner of what might have been a flower bed at one point.  I asked the realtor if she knew the species, but she didn’t.  The homeowners didn’t live in the area, they were semi-retired and living in Tennessee in one of their other two homes.  I then asked the realtor if we rented the property, would the homeowners mind if we did some landscaping on our own, and she said that she would ask.  We didn’t make a decision at that point, but soon after we did, and ended up renting the property (the realtor had come back with an answer on landscaping, and the response was yes, provided we didn’t do anything major like cutting down trees)

We decided to rent it, since it was the best of the bunch of the rentals we’d either found ourselves or the agent had brought us to.  We moved in November of 2000 and in the spring set to work on getting some control of the land and the respective gardens.  The species that had concerned me the previous fall looked like bamboo, and after a little investigation, it turned out the owner of the property had planted something called ‘japanese knotweed’ and it’s considered an invasive species.  Over the last nearly 20 years, we’ve been trying to get rid of this menace.  The major problem is, while I’m seriously attempting to get rid of the knotweed on my side of the fence, of my two neighbors, one is doing nothing but letting it grow, (and renting the property to people who don’t do anything with it) and the other one is cultivating his, because it grows to 8-10 feet tall by late summer and makes a nice visual blocking agent between my property and his.  When he moved in, I called over the fence and mentioned to him about the stuff and what it was, that it wasn’t a good idea to let it grow unattended and I thought he listened to me, but apparently he didn’t care or figured it was ok to allow it to flourish.

Consequently, every spring I end up with shoots that are coming through the ground in the one corner of the property, and a forest of old growth on the property line nearby that I can’t do anything with.  So as not to kill everything in the former bed we’ve been using natural remedies rather than something like Roundup™,  which the jury is still out whether or not it’s a carcinogen.  Better safe than sorry in the long run, we’re thinking.

Even so, unless we can get the neighbors on board, it’s a losing battle.  If I eventually succeeded in getting rid of it on my side of the fence, the fact that it’s growing unabated on the other two sides, means that there’s still a root forest under the ground that’s waiting to come up on my side.  So, the battle continues.  I’m fairly convinced by the time we move on, it’ll still be here.