Rampant poisoning

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    For the second time this week I have been driven indoors by various neighbors drenching their yards in herbicides. Each time, the chemical smell was overpowering and almost immediately I began to get a headache and sore throat. I still have the taste in my mouth. I’m now imprisoned in my home, windows shut tight, unable to go outside on my own property. I urgently needed to get some work done out there, as I have contractors coming later in the week.

    Even worse, I am a professional gardener and maintain my property organically. I’ve asked my next door neighbor to PLEASE not spray poison along our mutual fenceline, as I not only have edibles growing there, but my dog likes to munch on grass that sticks through the fence. A few months ago my dog became suddenly and violently ill; she had symptoms of poisoning and I was afraid she was going to have a seizure. Coincidentally, I noticed that all the vegetation along the fenceline was completely dead and brown.

    Unfortunately, cooperation is not a part of either neighbor’s mindset; a request for an accommodation is more likely to be seen as a challenge, achieving the opposite result. I guess I’m not really asking for advice, as there are no laws to prevent this and little to nothing I can do to negotiate with these individuals. I just don’t believe that most of these poisons should be used at all, much less available OTC where any yahoo can poison the environment for everyone. This creates serious, immediate hazards for anyone living adjacent to a poisoner (including pets and wildlife) and destroys my right to peaceful enjoyment of my own property. Just my rant for the day. Now that I’m locked in the house I guess I’d better find something useful to do…






    Much sympathy, anonyme. You probably don’t want to take things up a notch, but if you can show that the poison has crossed the boundary line and killed your plants, that’s property damage.



    More sympathy here, anonyme. I fully agree with you, that stuff is awful and should not be available OTC when one considers the damage it does to a wide variety of living things.

    I don’t suppose your neighbor would be open to letting you maintain their garden organically, so they won’t have to use that stuff anymore?



    Thanks everyone for the sympathy. I guess I needed it, as there’s little else I can do!

    Unfortunately I don’t have the time or energy to work all week, take care of my own yard, and then his, too – especially for free! I think there’s an element of defiance at work here. Seems to be kind of a guy thing. As in, no woman gonna tell ME what to do. Big, loud, phallic tools, and big, stinky, poison sprayers. In the end, it’s the same or more work than just pulling the damn weed to begin with (and a lot more expensive). But that’s not the point. No offense to organic guy gardeners, but it’s an attitude all too well known to women working in the trades.

    Speaking of trades – said offender is in a business that would make a lawsuit a rather scary business – so that’s probably out. Probably won’t be harvesting the artichokes and rhubarb that got sprayed this morning. But again, the thing that really scares me is the possibility of my dog being poisoned. I know what I’d do then, but not gonna write it here…!



    anonyme – again, not telling you what to do, but property damage isn’t a civil suit. It’s criminal. If you can show damage, you can call the cops.


    john moore

    It makes it to the ocean and destroys the reefs…



    I have little kids and dogs and I just don’t understand how people can put poison on their yards. Whenever I see an unnaturally green, lush, and weed free lawn, alarm bells go off in my head and I don’t want my kids to play there.



    kayo, thanks for bringing that up. There’s actually a third “poisoner” (I’m completely surrounded, it would seem) who recently sprayed his entire fenceline – right where his toddler plays. This was pointed out to me by the other organic gardener on the block.

    Katherine, thanks for the info re: civil vs. criminal. Good to know, although I don’t think I can go that route for a variety of reasons – including retaliation. Please don’t think I’m a coward – I’m actually pretty feisty – but I have to weigh the consequences of making myself a target in a losing battle. However, my reticence

    could disappear very quickly if the behavior escalates.

    The other problem with backyard poisoners is that they pay no attention to the directions for use. As with any OTC product, the assumption is “more is better”. And each of these guys was wildly spraying into the wind with no concern about who or what was downwind.



    It is really awful to feel like you don’t have any recourse or way to stop this. One of our dogs may have cancer and while researching I found some articles that show a link between application of 2,4,D aka weed and feed and canine cancer. If it is hurting our fur friends, it can’t be good for us either. Not to mention the deleterious environmental effects. Maybe you should talk to your neighbors about going in on a lawn service like In Harmony which uses organic methods. My neighbor used them for a while and his lawn looked great and no nasty chemicals. Maybe you could offer to maintain the fence line if they agree to stop? There must be a neighborly way to approach this. I wish you luck and sorry you have to deal with this! I am very lucky that my neighbors have just as many weeds as I do so clearly do not use chemicals.



    As annoying as this is and I truly understand, can you find out exactly what pesticide or herbicide the other homeowner is using? I doubt that it’s systemic (meaning it get’s into the plant/fruit) but rather a topical one that can somewhat easily be washed off with some soap and water. If they are using roundup, well, then your plants are toast but your soil is fine as this stuff breaks down to inert materials VERY quickly once hitting the soil. I don’t so much worry about others spraying the topical pesticides as much as the systemic ones because then my tomatoes would have it IN them, and would have to be thrown away.

    Still annoying and I wish we all lived on 1/4 acre lots where we didn’t have to worry about this as much.



    anonyme, does your neighborhood have, by chance, a Blockwatch?

    If so, maybe this could be brought up as a general topic in a neighborhood meeting?

    Not that folks as inconsiderate as these would participate, or react in a positive manner, but it may be a way to address the issue, to the broader neighborhood.




    kayo, that’s one of the things that really scares me, especially as my dog likes to snack along the fenceline. The really crazy thing is that this neighbor (who is very seldom home)has pretty much clearcut his entire property. There is only lawn left, with some weeds. No reason at all to drench it with herbicide – except because he CAN.

    Homer, I’m trying to determine what product was used. I’ve studied for the WA Pesticide license, but don’t keep one as I don’t use pesticides/herbicides either personally or professionally. The data on glyphosphates has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. It’s not nearly as innocuous or rapidly dispersing as originally thought. So I’m not reassured either way.

    You do raise an interesting point, though. I think a case could be made to ban use of these products in urban environments, as there is NO way to ensure that they stay within certain boundaries. It’s a public health issue. When I studied IPM, an interesting fact arose. Did you know that 99% of all children in Seattle schools have pesticide residue in their bloodstream? Pretty shocking statistic, and it came from a government source.



    I am sorry this is happening to you anonyme, and if you are who I think you are we do not have block watch on our neighborhood, but we should.

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