Ask Amy: Fall foliage fracas turns into homeowner’s 5-year ordeal

Fall colors at the Portland Japanese Garden

Neighbor asks if he's supposed to help pay for clean up of leaves from his large tree. Oregonian file photo. Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

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Dear Amy: I’ve lived in my home for five years.

There is a very large tree in the backyard. At this time of year, the leaves obviously fall to the ground in both my yard and my neighbor’s yard.

My neighbors have asked me to give them money to clean the leaves from their yard.

We are both homeowners, and in my opinion, homeowners sign up for the responsibility of maintaining our home and yard when we buy the home.

My neighbors on the other side of my house have leaves that fall into my yard and I would never assume it is their responsibility to clean the leaves that fall onto my property.

I am at a loss because this is not the first time my neighbors have asked about this.

In previous years I have said “no,” and yet they keep asking.

I don’t want to start a precedent of giving them money every year, but I don’t want to be argumentative.

Any suggestions?

– Leave the Leaves?

Dear Leave: Please remember that anyone can ask anything.

Asking can be very easy.

“No” can require a flash of courage, and sometimes a bit of finesse.

You are not responsible for the leaves that have fallen in your neighbor’s yard. (Double check your local laws and statutes.)

And now, after five years of saying “no,” in my opinion you no longer need to respond at all.

There is no need to respond again. Let your “no” precedent remain, like that last stubborn oak leaf clinging to its branch.

Dear Amy: Your response to “First-time Grandparents” was inadequate, to say the least. Their daughter-in-law’s parents had behaved abusively toward them, by berating them publicly.

Their son and daughter-in-law need to confront her parents about their inappropriate behavior and strongly suggest an apology to the injured parties.

To do less is just asking for the wound to fester.

– Upset

Dear Upset: You make a good point, but because these other in-laws were so volatile and explosive, I worried that confronting them might make matters worse.

Amy  Dickinson

Stories by Amy Dickinson

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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