“How do we get them to understand that what they see as an innocuous bag of fertilizer is infringing upon us?”

Photo by Miki Jourdan

“Dear PoPville,

For the past few months, with both the heat and our working from home, we’ve been noticing a foul, poop-like odor coming from the front yard. It’s overwhelming, and because of it we haven’t been able to enjoy the outdoors. We couldn’t quite figure out what it was; after searching a bit, we discovered that the neighbors had a bag of organic fertilizer in their yard, hidden from our sight, behind the wall we share with them. They’re never next door, and we haven’t ever spoken with them. We know that they’ve rented their basement out in the past because we’ve talked to their tenants (who, since then, have seemingly moved out).

About a month ago, we left a nice note on their porch, asking that they move the bag; they obliged, as the smell went away, but they’ve now returned (the bag and the smell). We convinced ourselves that it couldn’t just be fertilizer, and we had a plumber come out today to see if our sewage was in order. He inspected our system, and he attributed the smell to either animal poop or the fertilizer. He also said it most definitively was coming from their yard. Given that we don’t know these people and don’t know how to contact them beyond leaving notes on their door, what can we do? What should our course of action be? How do we get them to understand that what they see as an innocuous bag of fertilizer is infringing upon us — and how do we do that without escalating this into a tit-for-tat war?

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