Columns Opinion __Featured Slider — 27 September 2013
Hobie & Monk: Help! My neighbor is barking up the wrong tree

Dear Hobie & Monk,

My neighbor has nesting issues. He obsesses about his yard and will get the leaf blower out for two leaves. He has asked me in writing, twice, to cut down both of the large trees in my backyard because they drop leaves on his. I think it’s crazy to even ask a neighbor to cut down two trees, let alone expect it. I want to stay on good terms with my neighbors, but this is getting a little odd.

- Make like a tree 
and leave me alone

Hobie: One would think that someone with such strong “nesting” tendencies would simply adore trees, but apparently one would be wrong (and perhaps also a little too fond of metaphors). Anyway, you of course know that your basic responsibility is keeping your trees in good condition and allowing your neighbor to trim any branches that hang over his property line should he wish to do so.

He, in turn, bears the responsibility for keeping his property as free as he’d like from items that fall from the sky, including — but not limited to — leaves, snow, litter from passing motorists and the odd meteorite.

For him to ask you once to cut down the trees was definitely pushy, but to repeat the request, assuming you initially declined politely but firmly, was certainly inappropriate. I’m going to go out on a limb (ha!) and assume that any of what I hope were previous attempts on your part to be a congenial neighbor — like inviting him over for drinks in your beautifully shady yard and offering to watch his house while he’s away — were met with disinterest.

When friendliness and appropriate limit-setting attempts on your part are met with entitlement and out-of-line requests, you’ll simply have to get used to repeating yourself. And maybe skip the Happy Arbor Day card next year.

Monk: I think you should plant more trees. Consider this from the National Forest Foundation: Trees in cities and towns produce about 61 million metric tons of oxygen each year while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Urban trees filter airborne pollutants, clean water and absorb runoff, cool buildings and community spaces, and provide shade, windbreaks and natural beauty.

And here’s good news for you and your neighbor: You can buy a tree as a gift through the National Forest Foundation or a similar organization, which have programs that allow you to plant trees in celebration of friends and family. Even better news: They will notify the recipient in writing of your special tree-planting gift.

Happy Arbor Day, indeed!

Hobie and Monk are two Alexandria women with husbands, children, dogs, jobs, mortgages, unmet New Year’s resolutions, obsessions with impractical shoes, English novels … and Ph.D.s in clinical psychology. Their advice, while fabulous, should not be construed as therapeutic within a doctor-patient context or substituted for the advice of readers’ personal advisors.

To submit questions to Hobie & Monk, email hobieandmonk@alextimes.com.

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