My neighbor has a garden with plenty of nettles, and they're growing through my fence right where the kids' sandbox is. It must sadly be noted that the neighbor is only renting the place and doesn't give a damn, she won't lift a finger in the garden for any reason, so there's no point in discussing it with her. The whole place is very dilapidated, but at least the fence is mine.

How can I effectively prevent this sort of creeping attack and get rid of any nettles permanently?

The solution doesn't need to be particularly organic, and it would be great if there's something I can throw over the fence too*.

*I mean throw something against the nettles. Something at the neighbor is probably off-topic here :-)

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    It might sound a bit old school of course, but: you might talk to the neighbor explain your situation and ask him if you may cut the nettles with a lawnmower (maybe just a 1m trail along the fence). Do this all two or three months. Asking and offering are definitly things that are not unlawful. :) If this isn't a option anymore, I would dig in tiles (e.g. used roofing tiles; upside down) on your side of the fence to prevent the roots from growing over to your side. To prevent the blossoms and leafs from peeking through the fence you may add strawmats (they look nicer than plastic cover). Jun 16 '14 at 20:39

I don't know what the rules are where you live, but in the UK, we're allowed to cut back and remove anything growing over our boundaries, but it is illegal to treat, damage or pull out any planting outside of our boundaries, so you might want to check where you stand, since your neighbour may well be the type to cause trouble if you're caught mucking about with their 'plants'.

That said, I'd try a strong salt solution - mix a couple of tablespoonfuls of cooking salt or table salt in 2 or 3 litres of warm water, and water on to the base of the plants nearest your fence, and only those nearest. Then clip back anything that's poking through the fence currently. The salt should kill the nettles you apply it to, and prevent anything else growing for some time, because salt in the soil is toxic to most plants. Otherwise, spray with glyphosate - this should kill the nettles after a few treatments, but won't prevent eventual regrowth. Keep your children away from the area until the spray has dried.

UPDATE (in response to Slim's comment): Yep, you're right, and salt isn't usually ever something I'd recommend except possibly on a small area of waste ground. I have tried it once, just to see what happened, in a planted area, by applying it only to one plant, at the base. It killed that plant, but none of the others was affected, so I think you'd have to pretty much broadcast the salt solution to completely poison the soil in an area. I didn't, though, risk planting that spot again till the following spring, so around 5 months and a lot of rain later.

I also just want to add, I've only said that's what I'd do in these circumstances - what Torben actually does is his choice (just in case any legal issues arise!).

  • Salt sounds like an incredibly simple and useful solution! Thanks for the introductory warning, too. The neighbor is only renting and very clearly doesn't do any maintenance, and I'm sure I'll get no flak if I happened to put a bit of salt mater on her side of the fence. Jun 16 '14 at 15:17
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    I don't like this idea because the salt will make the ground hostile to any plants, will leach to the surrounding ground.
    – slim
    Jun 16 '14 at 15:36
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    Since you say the neighbor is a renter, I don't suppose there is any chance the landlord would be willing to do something about the weeds?
    – michelle
    Jun 16 '14 at 18:12
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    @try du hast eigentlich Recht, und normalerweise bin ich immer der Brave, aber irgendwann hat man genug von so einem Nachbarn. Danke der Warnung. Jun 16 '14 at 20:36
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    If you cut the nettles before applying any treatmeant, you could create nettle-tea. Very good for a lot of stuff in your garden.
    – Patrick B.
    Mar 6 '15 at 14:45

If you want to avoid of putting anything on their side of the fence, just start spraying all the vegetation that pokes through to your side with glyphosate, or a similar weed/grass killer. It will, over time, damage the roots enough that the plants will not come back. Spraying the tops with this will take 3-8 weeks before the chemical works through to the roots, but it will ultimately kill the root as well, and so may not require more than one long treatment per season to cut them back far enough for your needs.

Another option is to put landscape cloth or a similar impermeable membrane along the fenceline to keep the nettles on their side of the fence. Once a month cut down anything close to the fence that could start hanging over it. This would prevent having to use any chemicals, while reducing exposure. If you bury the cloth along the fenceline, you may be able to discourage growth right next to the fence since they require a strong, large root system to grow to a significant height.

Also, check your deed. In many places fences must be built completely on one property, rather than right at the property line. It could be that you own a foot on the outside of your fence, meaning you could treat that foot legally.

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    We already have cloth on our side of the ground but it's not pulled up along the fence (good idea!) so I see some nettles poking their leaves and seeds through the fence. I can probably work some cloth onto their side of my fence. It's mine. Jun 16 '14 at 19:13

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