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If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a nice lawn, landscape, or garden, you likely have your own approach to maintenance – and for some, that includes the use of pesticides. And if you and your neighbors disagree about spraying, tension can build up. But since a pesticide advocate is releasing chemicals into the neighborhood and the environment, it is considerate to let neighbors know what, where, and when they are spraying.
In an article on BobVila.com, Mark Wolfe gives some tips and strategies for (civil) discussions with your neighbors about pesticide use and how to deal with disagreements. Here’s what you should know.
How your neighbor’s pesticide use could affect you and your property
A quick note before we get into the details: this is not about discussing pesticide use in residential or commercial areas – this is a topic for another day. Here we focus on effectively communicating with your neighbors about their spraying habits, starting with how pesticide use could affect you and your property.
According to Wolfe, one concern is overspray. Also known as spray drift, it usually occurs when a liquid or dust treatment is applied to a lawn or area of vegetation on a windy day so that it can reach areas outside the person’s property line. If you notice an area along or near the boundary between your garden and your neighbor’s where the plants are damaged or dead, it is a sign of overspray and something to discuss with your neighbor.
Here’s how to talk to your neighbor about pesticide use
As Wolfe points out, tensions can arise between neighbors who have different approaches to pesticides, but talking thoughtfully about it can help defuse the situation. Here are some of the most important topics to bring up:
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What is being sprayed
If you’re the one doing the spraying (or hiring someone else to do the job), let your neighbors know what chemicals you’re using. If you’re on the other side of this equation, you can ask your neighbors (or the professionals they hire) what pesticides, herbicides, and / or insecticides they are using.
Then Wolfe suggests looking for the substances used to see if they pose a risk to humans or the environment. You should also consider having pets that spend time outdoors. If there is something that worries you, do your research and present it to your neighbor as they may not be aware of the implications. (But if you do, don’t be passively aggressive or an asshole.) Ideally, you’d compromise on what gets injected.
When are the pesticides sprayed?
Another way to deal with some situations is to ask your neighbor (or the people he hires) when they would like to spray. That way, you’ll have an early warning and can plan to be outside or stay indoors that day to avoid the chemicals and any possible odor, explains Wolfe.
Whatever side you are on, Wolfe says explaining your position to your neighbor can help. There are all sorts of reasons why people choose to use or not use pesticides and it is a good idea to listen to them.
Keep the communication going
In all likelihood, this won’t be a one-and-done chat. If you check in with your neighbor regularly (and reasonably), you can nip any new problems in the bud and talk about what works and what doesn’t. And as Wolfe explains, sometimes you have to agree to disagree. Legal action may be required in some cases, but Wolfe recommends using this as a last resort.