The current item "Neighborly Courtesy" on the EHell webpage, reminded me of a bit of a sticky situation we're having with our own neighbours at the moment and I wanted to ask for opinions. The background to the story is a little long and involved – apologies.
BG: My Mother's home is on a well-established street, which was built back in the 1970's. She's widowed & in her 70's now & lives (previously alone) in what was the home in which I grew up. The houses themselves are set well back from the road and the general trend is a driveway leading to the house, & a grassed frontage with trees, plants and garden beds. My Mum's is like this, as is the next door neighbour's & are both owner occupied. Her neighbour (whom I'll call Kate), is in her early 40's, is rather a dab hand at gardening and as a result her lawn & garden beds are lush (imagine very green & manicured) & she has installed underground reticulation. My Mother on the other hand has never enjoyed gardening, she pays a local retired man to come in once a month/every six weeks to mow the lawn, keep the weeds down & maintain the plants. She does not have reticulation, preferring to water by hose and sprinkler, as a result, while her garden could not be described as unkempt, it IS significantly less lush than Kate's.
Also, it's worth noting that the area of frontage (approx 3 yards), closest to the road and extending back towards the house is officially classified as "public land" owned (but not maintained by) the local authority. As I understand it, this is to accommodate any changing needs in the future (road widening etc), although this area is generally is treated (and maintained) by the occupier as part of the privately owned property & in on the odd occasions when a neighbour has a lot of guests for a party, it is established etiquette to ask your neighbours if it’s ok for guests to park on “their” area of public frontage. End BG.
Now, when I returned from living overseas after some years, my Mother was kind enough to open her home again to me for a period to get myself re-established. I noticed fairly early on, that Kate did not utilise her own areas of driveway, garage or land to park her car. She did not even park in the street in front of her home; instead, she was parking on the grassed "public" area of my Mum's front yard. I asked my Mother about it and ascertained that for the previous several years (since the reticulation had been installed), Kate had been doing this. Neither she nor my Mother had ever discussed it, Kate just simply seemed to prefer parking there & as a result the grassed area had become flattened and discoloured. My Mother admitted to me that she disliked Kate parking there as it felt intrusive as she did it so regularly, but that as a shy, older person living alone, she felt too intimidated to broach the subject.
You know what happens next right? The next time I saw Kate parking her car on my Mother’s lawn, I approached her. I greeted her in a friendly manner as we are aquainted. After some small talk, I asked her why she parked on the lawn in front of my Mother’s house, Kate immediately became defensive and responded that as it was public land & she could park there if she wanted. I (ever the peacemaker), told her that I knew that, but suggested as the area was becoming worn, perhaps she could park elsewhere.
Well, that was it, Kate reiterated that she could “park there if she bloody well pleased” and promptly stalked off. Ever since then, Kate has not spoken to either my Mum or I and seems to be making a point of parking in “our” yard daily. Question is, what to do and how to deal with this from here. Any suggestions?
EDIT: I don't currently have a car car to park there myself and my Mother prefers to heep her own car securely in the garage.