IT is mid-summer, the sun is shining and the garden is abuzz with life and beauty.
Just as you sit down to relax, the neighbour's kid turns up his radio and throws a football that sails over the fence and lands at your feet.
Or perhaps it is early morning and you've snuck out to the patio to read the Sunday paper just as your neighbour starts up his lawn mower to cut the grass.
These are just a few of the things that annoy people while in their gardens and the list of garden-related annoyances seems almost endless. We enjoy spending time tending the veggie patch, sitting on the patio with a cold drink or relaxing in the hot tub, but with everincreasing building density our sanctuaries are being intruded upon.
I did some research on the most common annoyances experienced in the garden that were reported to police, written about on websites or blogs, or discussed in chat rooms. The following are a few examples.
- That noise is sapping my Zen
We expect our gardens to be places of tranquility and inspiration but noise-related complaints are common in the garden. Lawn mowers, blowers, chainsaws, loud parties and even shrill voices of neighbours can send us over the edge. Some people cited animal noises, like a barking dog that just won't quit or cats fighting, as noise intrusions. Interestingly, some people found the gleeful sound of children playing and laughing as bothersome, and even the gentle sound of a wind chime can push the mild mannered into a frenzy.
My wife's least-liked sound in the garden is, as she puts it, "I get annoyed when there's this constant nattering voice leaning over my shoulder telling me, 'Like this, no not like that, how about if you try this?' Sometimes he (Todd) just won't stop talking and teaching. It saps my Zen."
- What's that smell?
It seems our noses have become acutely sensitized to any odour that intrudes into our gardens. Back in the day, the smell of fresh manure was an indication of building healthy soil or farmland glory, but today too much of a good thing is just an intrusion into our space and our noses. Smelly compost seems to be a problem for some people. Animal-related smells, including wandering skunks that pass by and leave their fragrant gift, or pet feces that get accidentally stepped on and that unmistakable smell of a dog that just rolled in whatever died were also commonly discussed.
Pesticide odour deserves a notable mention as many people found those odours so overpowering it drove them indoors. And let's not forget that special neighbour who barbecues some exotic spicy food every Sunday. The list of annoying smells continues with fabric softener from a dryer vent and even some neighbours' perfume as olfactory intrusions into our garden sanctuaries.
- Technology can be a curse
As we modernize into technological oblivion it seems that all manner of electronic device has the potential to frustrate us and disturb our time in the garden. Cellphones with irritating or obnoxious ringtones seem to be hated most widely. After all, who could stand the "I'm sexy and I know it" ring tone going off every 10 minutes over the fence from some over-excited teenager.
Technology has also allowed stereo systems to widely infiltrate gardens. Sound emanates from all corners, pumping out of stylish stereo-rocks, underwater pool speakers or blasting from a surround sound stereo system in the house that's cranked up while the parents are out. Then there are those eardrumpuncturing alarms for cars, houses and even sheds. Not
to mention those cute but irritating gate beepers that ring, beep or chirp every time the neighbour's gate opens.
Also mentioned were sunspotintensity security motion lights that cause temporary blindness that are so sensitive they go off when a chipmunk scurries up a tree.
- Grow up you jerk
This was a common refrain stated by people who got annoyed when neighbouring adults acted loudly or like juveniles. Chat-room discussions seem to single out drunken loudness, verbal arguments and swearing as being particularly irksome.
To stop all of these intrusions there really is no substitute for a big, dense hedge backed by a tall, solid wood fence, or a concrete fence if you can afford it.
I, however, use a more simple approach to all of these bothersome intrusions. I put on my airport-rated safety ear muffs, put a clothespin on my nose, slip on my 1970s mirrored sunglasses, and take my glass of wine and newspaper with me to find a secluded place to enjoy the garden in all its glory.
Todd Major is a journeyman horticulturist, garden designer, consultant and organic advocate. For advice contact him at email@example.com.