But as an urban gardener, I face many challenges because I share “the elements” with my neighbors.
My neighbor on the right is attached to my house. The large trees in their back yard don’t shade my garden, but they generate tons of weeds. The leaves sprout seeds, and in the autumn they all fall into my yard. I diligently rake my vegetable beds at the beginning of the season. And every morning, thoughout the gardening season, as I drink my coffee, I religiously pull weeds to prevent an outbreak.
My neighbor’s house (on the left) is about 15 feet away, just the width of my narrow driveway. The driveway provides the perfect break for the morning sun to peer right onto my vegetables. In his back yard, though, he also has several trees. The other neighbors gather under the canopy of shade and spend lazy summer days reminiscing about “the good ole days,” whilst I lament that it filters the midday sun onto my vegetables. And remind myself that trees are a vital element of the urban landscape.
One tree in his yard abuts my property line. In the last few years, it grew sufficiently to shade my prime gardening patch. I trimmed the leaves as best I could on my side of the fence so that I could maximize my sun without hurting his tree. Last year, he very graciously hired a professional tree service to trim the branches from the offending tree.
But then a strange thing happened last summer… all the plants I sowed along the property line died. Could this tree be emitting some sort of toxic resin? As I was preparing my vegetable beds a few weeks ago, I discovered the problem…. This tree had thick, cord-like roots that spread 20 – 30 feet from the base. These roots were strangling my plants.
So what’s an urban gardener to do? If I cut the roots out of my vegetable beds, I risk killing my neighbor’s tree. But if I don’t, I risk losing my vegetables and other plants.
I need your advice. How do I protect my garden and preserve my neighborly relations?