I've lived in my house for 10 years. It's semi-detached. When I moved in, on the unattached side lived Fred and Wilma. On the attached side lived Betty and Barney. Both couples were elderly retired people.
Fred and Wilma have always been friendly. They are very houseproud and would like me to spend more time on my front garden but keeping it weeded takes all the time I have and Fred has grown to understand that. We take in packages for each other and talk over the fence. One time he fixed something for me and I gave a thank you gift.
Betty and Barney were not friendly. Betty yelled at my friends for parking outside her house (although they weren't obstructing her drive). She yelled at me and said something very offensive about my pets that made me very angry with her - although Barney later apologised for his wife. Betty also yelled from her (badly-made not-up-to-code) balcony that we were being too noisy when sitting talking in my garden at 9pm on Saturday. Barney would come into my garden and cut my front hedge without asking because he thought it should be shorter and (I think) to assist him with backing his car out. Betty and Barney both complained about the way I grew climbing plants up my side of our dividing fence (something I did to keep them from peering in).
Two years ago, Barney passed away.
After Barney passed, I felt sorry for Betty. I sometimes heard her through the party wall crying. This made me very sad. I thought that if a suitable moment came I would express my sympathy but she doesn't go out that much and the fences between our gardens are high. From that point though I would nod and wave when I saw her standing in her front window (her favourite place, she's a bit of a curtain twitcher!).
Then Betty broke her wrist and went into hospital. While she was there Fred (neighbour on the other side) told me about it and said it would be a kindness if I could clip the side of my hedge that protrudes into Betty's garden because "she likes things neat". I thought that was reasonable, the hedge needed cutting. I entered Bettys' front garden and clipped the hedge so it didn't cross the boundary. (In the UK technically everyone has the right to clip anything that crosses a boundary like this.) Never heard another word about it from anyone.
Two weeks ago, the hedge was long again and Betty's garden was looking unkept. I again entered her front garden, clipped the hedge and grubbed up a few obvious weeds. (Trust me: the layout of Betty's garden made the weeds obvious.) Again, never heard a word about it.
Finally, my questions!
Should I go on cutting the hedge and should I speak to Betty about it?
The hedge *is* her responsibility and the front garden is her property. I wouldn't like her to find me there without saying anything. I hated it when Barney used to enter my garden. Because of the bad blood and shouting I am a bit scared about speaking to Betty. But I do mean the hedge cutting as a kindness. Should I perhaps ask Fred to act as intermediary? Or just wait until I do see Betty outside and speak to her (although this could take months, we're having a sort of monsoon in the UK!)
Should I do more, extend more of an olive branch?
Betty's not alone. She has a live in lodger and her daughter is frequently there as well (usually shouting at high volume at her young son but that's another story). But it might make Betty feel better to know I'm happy to let bygoens be bygoens and if she needs a neighbourly hand she can ask. (I'm afraid I can't offer to do all her yardwork. I can barely keep up with mine and I hire casual labourers as well.)
What do you think, eHellions? Am I doing the right thing, keeping things casual? Should I do more?
I know many of you will say don't enter her yard without permission - any thoughts on how to calmly knock on the door and explain about the hedge cutting? I tried to steel myself to it but my mouth keeps going dry!