What can I do about my neighbor who dumps his grass clippings along my property line?

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2010

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What can I do about my neighbor who dumps his grass clippings along my property line?

For the past several years my neighbor has been dumping his grass clippings along our property line causing my yard to stink from decaying grass. I have tried talking to him on several occasions. He has always said he will do something about it but does not. Starting this year I started setting a water sprinkler on his clipping to stop the smell, but now he is throwing my sprinkler back into my yard. What can I do about this problem?

Asked on July 12, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If the neighbor is keeping the lawn clippings on his side of the line, even if it's right against the line, there probably is little you can do about it--unless you feel that the smell is so bad that (1) it rise to the level of a legal "nuisance" (see below) and (2) you are willing to go to court against your neighbor, you may be able to get a legal order forcing them to stop  this.

A nuisance is when someone takes actions on his or her own property that makes the use of neighbor's property almost impossible or untenable. It requires far more than "mere" annoyance--for example, having a neighbor leaving dead animals on his property, creating a health hazard, or playing loud music late at night, are examples of nuisances. It's not clear the grass clippings would rise to this level, though you could speak with an attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your situation for you.

If the grass clippings are on your side of the line, that's different--you have an absolute right to not have them there.

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