Neighbor has a stagnant small water feature smelling..

AdamM321(MA z5/6)May 18, 2005


I know I am full of problems this We have been renovating the back yard therefore more opportunities for problems. While working out there, we have noticed a very bad odor. We figured out it was coming from our neighbor's yard. Thought it might be their dogs, but finally figured out it is a small stagnant home made pond that is about 4 feet in diameter, right along our lot line. Every time the wind blows in this!

Thankfully it is not an area where we ever sit, and is away from the house, but I will be working in that area more since adding shrubs and perennials.

My concern is not only the smell, but I am wondering if there is any potential for health risks breathing that? I would rather not have to confront them with it, but if it becomes more of a problem when we are outdoors more or the temperatures warm up, I may have to.

Any experiences with this?


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paulns(NS zone 6a)

What if you bought them a barley straw pad for their pond? I know very little about ponds but have pond/fountain envy and find these interesting. All natural pond cleansers.

Here is a link that might be useful: barley

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 4:06PM
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carolynn(z9 N. Cal.)

I would be more concerned about mosquitos, a definite health hazard with west nile.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 4:52PM
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mayalena(6 - MetroWest Boston)

Can you toss in some mosquito dunks, just to avoid the mosquito hazard? I wonder how bad it would be to put in a few drops of bleach, too? I don't think there's a health risk from breathing fetid water fumes, but it certainly sounds like it will interfere with your pleasure. I wonder if your neighbors would like help maintaining their pond...ever thought about starting a water garden?....

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 8:59PM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

All it would need is a bubbler.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 12:14PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)


Thanks Paul for the Barley link. I went and looked it over, but it said you have to have moving water for it to be helpful. That is the problem that this water is not moving.

I would like to suggest the mosquito dunks to my neighbor. I wonder if they would be a problem for his dogs? He also has small children in his yard all the time. I have seen them play in the edge of the water.

As for a bubbler, you would have to have electricity and I suppose they don't have that.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 7:15PM
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Of course the first step is a friendly discussion with your neighbor. Offer to help with the clean up. Explain about the need for moving water to ward off mosquito larvae. If that fails then this 'take charge and worried about west nile virus' gal would probably tresspass and clean up the mess. Note: I would be taking pictures and have a few witnesses to the scene of my crime who could vouch for the situation. Mosquito dunks are organic but they will not clean up rancid water. In this situation only the 'armstrong method' will work coupled with a bubbler system which could be on a solar battery for such a small pond.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:44AM
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sallym(z4 MN)

I agree with the friendly discussion approach. I would be extremely unhappy if someone threw mosquito dunks into a "pond" on my property, and I would be livid if they used bleach, no matter how little. You could say your sister is looking to build a pond and your neighbors will probably start talking about theirs. Most likely they are going to say they are embarrassed they didn't finish it/ haven't been taking care of it/ are planning to finish it/ take it out/ etc., which will give you a good opportunity to make some suggestions and find out what the scoop is.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:37AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)


I would like to try the friendly discussion approach. I already spoke with them about a pile of debris, leaves etc, that was piled against one of the posts of our fence and I was afraid it was going to rot it out. I was very friendly and polite but they basically indicated that they are not very interested in yard work, and they would move it although so far they haven't. They also took the opportunity to complain about all the leaves they end up raking that are from neighbors trees, even though they have two trees in their yard. Left me scratching my head. [g]

In the past, they have also acted in other ways that haven't really indicated a high degree of awareness and responsibility. They have a pool and I know the zoning laws are for a 6ft fence surrounding the pool, but on our side of the yard, we have a 4ft high post and rail fence, backed with metal wire fencing to keep a dog in we used to have, and they left it at that when they put a pool in.

I had small children and had to constantly watch them. I think I should have complained at the time, but I didn't. So some of my resentment from that is under the surface this time around.

They also had a Red Setter dog that was totally hyper and every time they let him out in the yard, he would bark his head off. They would come to the door and yell at him and then leave him out there barking before they would bring him in. Sometimes someone would leave him in the yard and go out for hours. He also barked late at night and early in the morning. The dog's barking was a problem for us for I would say a good 8 years and we tolerated it. Mainly because we didn't want to be a complaining neighbor and create conflict, and because we knew they were crazy about their dog and are basically not good at disciplining him.

That dog died and they got a new dog, same breed, and he started doing the same thing, and we thought well here we go again. But finally they got a second dog to keep him company and he is much better. A sweet dog, very friendly.

They did ask us to move a leaf pile last year, that was within about 10ft of the lot line. It was just bags of leaves breaking down in a wire bin, but they objected to the smell. To me, I like the smell of leaves breaking down, it smells like the forest floor, but obviously everyone doesn't. We did use some of the bags which eliminated half of them but couldn't move the whole bin until this spring. So it has been relocated and won't be near their yard anymore. But there is no other problem past or present that they could perceive as a problem with us as neighbors.

No, I wouldn't go on anyone's property to "fix" a problem. I wouldn't think I legally have the right to do that and could be sued. I also wouldn't want to do something to their pool without their knowing about it and it causes a problem for them with their dogs or something. I would also be furious if someone did that to me.

Well, I could think of them taking a simple suggestion about putting a mosquito dunk in their pool or barley, but if there is more that they would have to do, I suspect they will let it go.

I guess the first step is to talk to them and see what their response is going to be. If that doesn't go well, will there be a point that I should get the board of health involved?

I guess I feel we have bent over backwards to be good neighbors and are tired of being so tolerant and reasonable, but we have managed to stay on good terms with all our neighbors in the 20 years we have lived here and don't want that to change.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 12:25PM
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If it were me, discussing the issue with my neighbors, I think my approach would be, "I'm a bit concerned about the possibility that the mosquitoes might be bad this year, what with all of my (insert any possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes on YOUR property here; if there aren't any, make something up) and your pond, especially considering West Nile Virus and my small children and your pets." Rather than either "Your pond is a health hazard!" or "Your pond stinks to high heaven!", even if both are true :-).

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 2:30PM
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jcin_los_angeles(z10, Sunset 22,)

Friendly discussions are fine, but if that doesn't work, a stagnant pool is a health hazard. The mosquito season is here, and believe me, neither you or your community want a breeding ground for West Nile virus. IMHO the appropriate city government agency would need to be contacted soon.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 12:06AM
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Organic_johnny(z6b SEPA)

Definitely just talk to them about it. If they're not taking care of it, they might be happy to let you just fill the thing in with soil and be rid of it.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 7:12AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)


Update: Well a successful end to this situation. I did talk to the neighbor in a friendly way and not confrontational, but just asking questions. They are due to have a party in their yard in a few weeks, so they are planning on taking care of the pond. They have a pump that was disconnected for whatever reason and are cleaning it up and reconnecting I guess. Have seen them start on it, so that is encouraging.

Thanks for all your input. When you get frustrated about a situation it is always a good idea to consult someone not involved in the situation who can give you a better response from a cooler head. [g]


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 10:12AM
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