Exterior Pools & Water Features

12 Landscaping Features That Might Annoy Your Neighbors

When the HOA is lax or nonexistent, some neighbors might add decorations or home features that leave much to be desired. Are you guilty of any of these not-so-neighborly landscaping features?
Kat Hodgins Avatar
Photo: gettyimages.com

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Where do you get ideas for your outdoor space? Sometimes inspiration strikes, and you know exactly what to add to your lawn, garden, or home exterior to put your signature on it. However, your neighbors might not appreciate the view—or other aspects of your design.

In your effort to create a home you love, be careful you’re not irking your neighbors in the process. What might be idyllic for you could be a thorn in the side of nearby residents. Here are 12 landscaping features that generate mixed reactions.

1. Trees Near Property Lines

Front of a house with large trees growing along property line.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Trees are amazing; they provide shade, produce oxygen, and may generate fruit or flowers that make your yard picturesque. But if that tree is too close to the neighbor’s property, there might be an issue. Trees can drip sap, drop fruit, shed leaves, and obstruct views on your neighbor’s property. It’s a good idea to check the property lines so you can place a tree in an area that works for both of you.

2. Fire Pit

Yellow yard chairs around smoky fire pit.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Gathering around a fire pit creates memorable get-togethers of shared stories and good times. However, your neighbor might not see it that way. Depending on the setup, the fire pit might be seen as a fire hazard by neighbors, especially if it’s close to their property. You also can’t control the direction of the wind, which can blow smoke into their outdoor area. Lastly, if you’re fond of a late-night sing-song around the fire, your fellow homeowners might not appreciate your talents past their bedtime.

3. Workout Equipment

A man lifting large barbell as part of his workout in his yard.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Taking care of yourself is important and sets an excellent example for others. While it’s nice to work out in the fresh air, your neighbors might be less fond of the at-home CrossFit gear or home gym equipment in your yard and hearing you huff and puff as you push yourself to the limit. Additionally, kickboxing dummies in the yard can startle neighbors, who might think it’s a stranger by the fence at first glance.

4. Pond

A small backyard pond with flowers around the border.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Who doesn’t love a water feature? They’re so peaceful, giving your property a zen feel. In many cases, a pond is beautiful—but only if you take care of it and ensure it has moving water. Some property owners keep a still-water pond for wildlife on larger grounds. However, ponds become mosquito breeding grounds without movement, which might upset the folks next door who have to deal with swarms and itchy bites.

5. Year-round Holiday Decorations

Halloween decorations in front yard.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Eccentricity may be part of who you are, but not all neighbors appreciate the whimsy of holiday decorations that persist year-round. An example that comes to mind is those 12-foot-tall Halloween skeletons. The neighbors love them during the spooky season, but when you make it look like the skeleton is helping string up your Christmas lights, it can lose its charm. Then gardening season comes around, and it’s wearing a bright yellow wig and holding a watering can. It’s funny to passersby, but less entertaining for those who see it daily.

6. Motion Lights

Three very bright flood lights on top of home.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Having motion lights or flood lights can increase home safety and security. These lights are beneficial, but their ratio of helpful to annoying depends on a few factors. If your neighbor trips the lights while walking on their property, motion lights can become an annoyance. Another issue may be the brightness and the positioning of these lights. If the lights come on too often or shine into a neighbor’s home (especially a bedroom), they can ruffle some feathers. 

7. Dog Kennel or Run

A circular dog run with two small dogs playing inside.
Photo: chewy.com

Many neighbors likely adore your pup and have no issue with Fido being outside on your property. A dog kennel or run gives them a safe place to go in your yard. Of course, if you have too many furry friends or poorly behaved dogs that disturb the peace, you may have to respond to upset neighbors or even police (depending on the state). Keep the peace instead by placing a dog kennel or run away from the neighbors’ fences if possible and where your furry home protector is not as likely to bark at the neighbors when they come out to enjoy their outdoor space. And keep it picked up…

8. Perfect Lawn

Person using grass trimmer on green lawn.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Saying that an unkempt lawn annoys the neighbors is too expected, especially when the opposite can be just as irritating. Some people pride themselves on their meticulously maintained landscaping. Neighbors who mow and edge their lawns multiple times a week might be just as bothersome, especially when the weather warms up, and they fire up their loud tools first thing in the morning, before it’s too hot for chores.

9. Chicken Coop or Aviary

A large chicken coop in yard.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Modern homesteaders might love their laying hens, or perhaps your bird-loving neighbor keeps tropical feathered companions in a backyard cage. One thing these avian varieties have in common is the sounds they make. From clucks to squawks at any number of volumes, these birds can do their share of disturbing the peace.

10. Pool

A large group of friends jumping into a pool together.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Swimming pools can sometimes add value to a home. According to a study by realtor.com, homes with pools have about an 8 percent higher price point than similar homes without a pool. It is a lovely addition to a house, but the neighbors may disagree. From raucous pool parties to issues with the chemicals and concerns about where you’re draining the pool water, neighbors might be less keen for a pool than you think—but maybe a swimming invitation would change their tune.

11. Wrong Type of Fence or no Fence

A person using a driller to build a fence.
Photo: istockphoto.com

You know what they say: good fences make good neighbors. If you want to replace an existing fence, add a fence to a yard without one, or remove a fence entirely, you need buy-in from the homeowners next to you; otherwise, this could lead to some strained relationships. Deciding on the fence you want to install also affects adjoining neighbors, so even if it’s on your property, they might have concerns about the quality, height, or aesthetics of the type of fence you want and how it will be maintained. 

12. Outdoor Speakers

One large outdoor speaker.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Hooking up your outdoor speakers can add ambiance to dining al fresco, sitting by the outdoor fireplace, or watching the sunset from the hot tub. Sure, it sounds pretty wonderful to you, but what kind of volume are you using? Do the neighbors appreciate hearing your genre of music or share your enthusiasm for true-crime podcasts? It might be worth checking in with those in the homes around you to ensure your speaker volume is reasonable and you’re not becoming known as the noisy neighbors.