New Gardeners in 'YOUR' Old House! (Funny or Frustrating?)

mk87April 11, 2008

Just something to make you laugh...or roll your eyes...

When we bought our first house, it was in an older, established neighborhood with HUGE, old dogwoods, azaleas, etc in the backyard. Beautiful. But, the front yard had seen better days. We set to work immediately, creating curvy beds along the front, down one side and by the driveway/mailbox; filling them with crape myrtles, junipers, dwarf azaleas and indian hawthorne. Next-door neighbors on both sides were also gardeners and we had a great time kibbutzing (sp?) over our yards.

We sold that house and are building a garden at the new house. The old next-door neighbors are still friends with us and they call us all the time complaining about the folks who purchased our house. Seems they LEVELED all of the plants/shrubs/trees in ALL of the beds...just leveled 'em. Didn't dig them out, didn't put something else in, didn't do anything, just cut everything down to the ground. And, of course, they have not done anything else in two years, so the weeds have taken over. We drive by there all the time and shake our heads over what's happened to the place.

Sad, isn't it? You'd understand if their taste was just different and they took our YOUR plants and put in their own. But, just to cut everything down to the ground, hang up the weedeater and call it a day? Hard to fathom.

Do any of you still visit places you used to garden and want to scream at what new owners have done? I'm sure sometimes it's funny at how different gardeners have different tastes and see a garden in different ways. But, in this case, it is just sad and seems wasteful.

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buford(7 NE GA)

No, but where I grew up we had a lady on the corner who had the most wonderful yard. We used to love walking by it. Then she moved and a young couple with kids and dogs moved it. They destroyed the yard.

But a few years ago, the original woman's kids bought the house and started re-doing the yard, so it's wonderful again.

When I move from this house, I don't want to come back. I dont' want to know.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Nell Jean

It isn't funny. Terrible for the folks on each side who have to look at the mess. Can they call the county and have the weedy mess cited as a nuisance?

The new owners obviously are not gardeners; totally clueless. You'd think they would have waited through one spring to see what they had. Pity.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:19AM
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I feel so badly for my old next-door neighbors. They are both such avid gardeners. One of them is really into his grass...everything is very neat and tidy. The other one loves flowers and (what I call) old fashioned plants and she is always working on her borders.

The house (a definite "starter home" variety) isn't anything without the charm of the trees and shrubs. They have even cut down some of the beautiful old dogwoods and azaleas in the back. Good luck whenever THEY try to sell it to someone else.

The weird thing know, not everybody is interested in gardening. I get that. So, wouldn't you WANT a lot of easy-care (frankly almost NO care) beds (oh...AND a drip system too!) that you don't have to do anything but maybe prune a little once a year? No mowing, no nothing? Why would you WANT to make more work for yourself? Beats me...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 11:54AM
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foxesearth -- I don't know. That's a good question. There are several houses for sale in that neighborhood and some of THEM look a little rundown in the yard department too...but then, those are empty houses. There's no HOA there, so they aren't violating anything in that respect. I will ask one of my old neighbors if they have considered calling the county and complaining.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 11:58AM
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We had a house like that. By the time we left, the place looked like a park, but the new owners hit everything (including the 40' tall dogwood) with powertools. There are now terribly arranged 'country' decorations everywhere. It's pretty horrifying.

If they'd just ripped everything out and put pansies and marigolds in, it'd have been one thing, but hacking up the dogwood was a total, unexcuseable travesty.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 12:48PM
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Hmm, I think I might have the house in question that leveled the plants! Okay, maybe not. However, I did have the front yard leveled 1.5 years ago when we bought the place and then found out I was pg. So, since I garden and my husband doesn't and I wasn't up to the task the beds went to the weeds for a spell. This spring/summer I've finally been able to get out there and start working again and come quite a ways on fixing up the yard. I'm so thankful that my neighbors aren't really gardeners and have been very patient. The lesson here is that maybe there is still hope. Maybe the new person lost their job or had something happen in their life that they weren't able to complete the project yet. Hopefully in the future they will get it back to looking great. In the mean time I can totally understand not being really happy about your plants being destroyed!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 1:41PM
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vicki7(z7 N.Ga.)

Same EXACT thing happened to my grandmother's yard after she passed away in the early '80s and the family sold her property. She was such an awesome gardener who was known throughout the community for being able to get ANYTHING to grow. Her yard was gorgeous. New people bought the place, cranked up the weedeater and lawn mower and cut everything down to ground level. Even the shrub-type plants, such as hydrangeas, weigelia, azaleas, native azaleas, blueberries. Some of my aunts had already dug up and taken a few things home, thankfully. It was heartbreaking to see, but after all it was THEIR property. There ought to be a law, no I take that back... too many laws already.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 4:07PM
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Interesting that you should start this thread. My neighbor 4 doors down and I were just talking about this topic the other day.
She just moved in about 6 months ago and stopped to chat with me the other morning when I was out watering my newly planted things in the front flower bed.

She was telling me about the 4 years that she lived in her other house (about 1/2 mile from here and I've driven by it and seen her former landscape) and how she spent over $1000 on bulbs and perrenials for the yard.....

And she drove by it last month to see that every single one of those bulbs that came up this past spring and the oriental lillies that were coming up and would bloom this summer had all been pulled up and sod had been placed over all the beds. She said she sat in her car a few houses down at the stop sign and just sobbed.

We inherited a 50 foot sprawling flowerbed and there have been some things that I didn't care for that have been taken up but the fun was in watching each season the first 2 years that we were here and seeing what surprises the bed held for us that week/month.

I understand that people have different taste and it is their property, but Good Lord! We can't help but become emotionally and physically attached to those things when we invest the time, energy and $$ and sweat into it that we did and it pains me that others don't appreciate it and can have it be gone in just a matter of minutes.

Oh well,

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:52PM
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Sadly some people just don't care or realize the value in landscaping.
I moved into a home that was stripped bare, topsoil on the whole property. There was only Oak, Hickory, and a scraggly Dogwood tree. The homeowner before me hadn't raked a leaf in years so all the grass died and every time it rained everything was stripped bare.
I have busted my butt and pocket book trying to get everything back to a level of decent. I had to put in raised beds, rock borders, and temporary planting beds to stop the stormwater. I realize it will take me a good 5 years to get everything looking good and at least another year before I can even put grass in.
My neighbors have complained about previous tenants and one lady even planted a leyland cypress to block the view from her porch to the house. This all occurred before I bought the house, but the complaining and ill will still exists.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 10:32AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Well, I love my garden. However, if you move and don't take stuff with you, it isn't yours. Changes happen. Once you move out, it isn't yours.
Nobody took care of my grandmas garden after we sold her house. My mother is obsessively drawn to go back and look at the changes annually and cry. I refuse to go back. She does not understand, but i have no interest in the new tenants and what they have done. I'm so happy to focus on the positive yet incredibly slow progress of my own garden.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 12:43PM
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I just curiously opened this, and this is a big one with me, it's never about the house, but the yard, that's part of me. One house, I never had to go back to, but did. I could see the trees we planted and climbing red rose on the rustic arbor my hubby so lovingly built, but that was driving by behind the house, looking over a 6' privacy fence, they didn't change anything I could see in the front, but it was a huge tree lined driveway and everything had grown quite a bit. The other two houses, I still owned and had to return, the first one haunted me for about five years, regularly. Starting with, "Oh, I dug all the dead stuff out of this bed, we want to plant some flowers here." It was early spring in the high desert, where the perennials and self sowing annuals don't start growing until you shear it all back and water it. I pulled some of it out of the trash pile, took it home and revived it. they never planted anything to replace it. Then there was the 12" deep 6- 3x6 redwood boxes (raised bed vegetable garden), with handmade soil, a sink with a faucet, etc., later trashed, he was going to put a horse in there. They really trashed the whole place inside and out, and I later blew out 2 discs in my neck pruning a neglected tree.
The other house, I'm still tied to and our son and family live in, she is not inclined to do anything at all in the yard, but who knows, maybe one day she will. In the meantime I will have to work on it, after traveling 700 miles to see everybody. The upside is I can take whatever I want to , but won't have the time each visit to make it a lower maintenance yard, unless we go just for that and have help from them. They are totally changing the house, and it definately does not feel like my space, and it does not affect me, but the yard, "Well..." I always want to take a part of my favorite or passed down plants, but I would rather never have to go back to the yard after that, it is painful enough to leave it, let alone go back to it. We just start the process over.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:39AM
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I have a success story for y'all.

I closed on my 1956 house on 12.30.2009. Part of what attracted me to it was almost 1/2 acre lot. It's the standard mostly square older home - nothing at all fancy about the house. But the yard...

I've always wanted to become a gardener. I wanted to grow my own food, plants beautiful plants, and have a place of serenity and beauty by way of landscaping.

The prior owner was a very old woman who passed away last year. All my neighbors tell me she was all the time working in her yard and had one of those magazine perfect yards all year round. Before she passed away of course. I'm told the yard - front and back, was immaculate.

There are several HUGE oak trees in the back yard. There are azaleas, hydrangeas, dogwoods, magnolias, weeping cherry tree, wisteria, hollies, ferns, TONS of hostas, solomon's seals - and so much more!

Since I moved in during winter, the back was just sticks and leaves. Years and years worth of leaves. It looked really bad, being neglected for so long. I'm told too that the previous owner had suffered in health her last few years and during that time could no longer take care of her yard.

Now, I'm the owner. When I first moved in I must admit - in my extreme ingorance, I was the typical non-gardening type. I looked at the yard and only saw what I wanted to remove so I could plant what I wanted. Terribly selfish I know, and all I could see was my own limited view of beauty.

But I believe the gardening Gods were smiling on me. I read a few books prior to me doing anything in the yard, which saved both the yard from disaster and myself from ignorance. After reading these books - my view or gardening was changed forever. I hired a landscaper to identify what he could, and continued to educate myself. Once I realized what I truly had I choose to only clean up this spring and I'm not doing anything else really so I can see what's actually back there. I want to see what grows and blooms throughout the year so I don't accidentally remove something that I should leave.

Spring came and my yard came alive! I had no idea how beautiful it would become. And after reading several books on ecological gardening and permaculture, I decided that this yard was mostly fine as it is. To honor the woman who created this masterpiece, I decided that I'd maintain what is back there and the only things I want to do now is replace some of the non-natives plants with native plants, and just keep the yard picked up. I know this will take years as I'm only one person and as you can see, the yard is huge for just one person.

I believe this is a very big success story. While the prior owners are no longer here to do the drive by, I believe that my education in gardening and the respect I'm showing for their hard work and beauty is somehow felt by them. At least, that's how I sometimes feel. Or, what I want to believe.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 7:48AM
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Congratulations on your discovery :)

You did just what we did - I started a journal when we moved in during Sept 05 and every week (or so) I would take pictures and record what I was seeing in this sprawling border bed (50 ft+ in length) and throughout the yard/property.

What a smorgasboard.... We didn't touch a thing except the giant sugar maple - which we had groomed so that the limbes didn't touch the ground and freed up our entire back yard.

Once I knew for an entire calendar year what was going on, only then did I start doing "stuff".

I applaud you for educating yourself and am excited that you have a head start and an appreciation for the TLC and investment that went into your property.

I couldn't get the pic to come up/otherwise I would have commented on it too :)


    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 9:46PM
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Wow...can't believe my thread is still going...after 2 years! :)

First of all, to telx2 -- I don't think you are the one who bought my house, because I still drive by and I haven't seen any progress made at my old house. And good for you for getting out and making an effort at your house! Enjoy! :) I do understand that sometimes there are circumstances which prevent gardening. The funny thing is, that when we lived there, we purposely chose trees, shrubs and perennials that needed very little care, because it was our starter house and we always planned to sell. We didn't want prospective buyers to be put off by the idea that the yard would take too much work. Plus, our new beds even reduced the grass area, so less mowing!

GGG -- You are so right...when we moved, it wasn't ours anymore and I've (slowly) come to grips with that. It was just so awful to see it when it happened...and I mean, it happened within just weeks of them buying the house! We didn't understand and the neighbors didn't understand. One of them even went to talk to the new owners and asked if she could come and carefully dig out some of the smaller things to transplant into her yard. But, the owners didn't take her up on her offer. I wish I'd known they were going to cut everything down, because I'd have had a free-if-you-dig-it-up day and let the neighbors all come and get what they wanted.

It's still sad to me, when I drive by the old place, and I'm not sure I'll ever be completely over it. :)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:48PM
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You know the old saying "you can never go home again"? Well, that holds true for me when it comes to the gardens. Even my childhood home - where my family still lives - has changed drastically. Things that thrived when I was home to help, and loved to get in the dirt and watch it grow, are no longer there.
Groves of persimmons, huge rose bushes, many trees, perennials...and the irises - most of them are gone. My parents just don't have the time to dedicate to a yard like they used to - and while there are lots of great things going on in the yard now - the things that I had many memories of are gone. I love going to visit the family - but seeing the gardens are just depressing...

That is why when you move into a new home - you stop to see what is there, and then remember to put your personal touch on whatever is there.

And don't forget - when you go, if possible - take some cuttings and divisions so that you take part of your memories with you when you leave.

And I agree about never going back - I never have been able to go back to the houses we have lived in over the years, I imagine I would feel a little like I do when I go home to see my family. That is why I remember with my photos when it comes to our former homes. My kids would like to go back and see some of our old homes - I just can't.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:08PM
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