My neighbor’s yard is terrible and the house next to hers is abandoned due to fire so it’s weeds everywhere. It’s been a battle to keep the weeds out a battle i have lost. What was once a beautiful backyard is now overrun with weeds. It’s fall now but i plan to have a garden on the spring but i am unsure how to keep weeds out. Any suggestions? There is no privacy fence just chain fencing. Also i read about raised garden beds would they keep weeds out instead of planting straight into the ground?

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    First thing: ask your municipality (after you ask your neighbors). Maybe there are rules. Then what do you mean with "your garden"? lawn? vegetable garden? flower beds? If you have also the name (or a picture) of the weeds, we may be able to help better. (perennial weeds: you may need to dig in order to make a barrier to the roots. In other cases: no barriers will help you. If somebody could cut the weeds 2-4 time a year, it would be really better (so not much work for your neighbor) Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 12:23
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    It is a waste of time to try to guess where weed seeds came from. If you don't want them , kill them. Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 17:09

3 Answers 3


I have a neighbor whose yard is a weed-pit, too. Fortunately for me, two things work in my favor: the yard is downwind from my yard and I have a solid six-foot tall fence between our yards.

A couple of ideas to take care of this year's weeds:

  1. As noted by @Giacomo Catenazzi in the comment under your question, if possible, get local government involved. Most cities in my state have ordinances that govern the height of grasses in yards; in many cases, these are incorrectly used to prevent people from planting native plants, but in all cases, the city will need to inspect if you complain. A big concern that you should have is rats infesting the house and yard due to the unkempt yard.

    If you live in a rural area, then there will be no laws governing yards like I cited above, but there will probably be laws governing noxious weeds (this also applies to most cities).

    So, do some research on your municipality's web site to get the facts as to municipal ordinances that may apply, then call the municipal government AND your alderperson/town supervisor/mayor/take your pick of official and file a formal complaint against the neighbor's property. If there are "plant height/weediness" laws like I mentioned, then demand that the municipality enforce that ordinance, which involves cutting the entire yard and charging that property's owner. Next year, complain again and keep complaining until the house sells.

  2. If the municipality has no ordinances governing properties as I described above, or if the municipality refuses to act, you could take matters into your own hands. I don't mean cutting down the weeds, but deadheading them. Because most weeds spread via air dispersal, deadheading can really make a difference as to the number of weeds in your yard, especially if that yard is upwind of yours. This means, though, that you must enter that yard, which could go against trespassing laws and perhaps be a hazard to you if the neighbor has left garbage lying around that you could turn an ankle on or fall over. If you do decide to deadhead, just cut the seedheads off and put into a kraft paper lawn waste bag; don't drop on the ground or put into compost.

  3. No matter what happens with 1 and 2, you can permanently prevent the roots of perennial weeds from entering your yard by vertically burying a strip of aluminum flashing at the fence line. I recommend eight-inch wide flashing, going down six inches, screwing it horizontally into the ground so that it doesn't frost heave, and leaving two inches above ground, flush with the chain links. This is a decent amount of work (get a flat-bladed shovel to more easily make the V-trench you'll need to do this first), but it is a permanent solution.

So, I've covered how to stop weed seeds and roots, but what about seeds already in your yard? A good, organic mulch, applied just before the growing season at least one inch think will cover this year's weed seeds, preventing them from germinating. For perennial and shrub beds, I use arborist wood chips, which I get free from my city's yard waste dump. You can also buy hardwood mulch in bags or from a local nursery. Every year, add a half-inch or more to cover the previous year's seeds. I know from twenty+ years' experience that this works. See here to download a free fact sheet for more information. For vegetable gardens I use a one-year mulch such as cocoa bean hulls, rice hulls, pine needles, etc., whichever is common in your area.

If your municipality does cut down that yard, you may want to act next year to preemptively take care of the weeds, by perhaps cutting the yard regularly yourself or by planting a cover crop; one crop that works really well if you're not in a drought-prone area is pumpkins, as they spread fairly rapidly, have very long vines, and large enough leaves to prevent seeds from germinating or thriving.


In a similar situation, I was just spraying Roundup on the boundary edges. I have a funnel shaped attachment on my sprayer's wand which contains the spread of the mist, as I drag it, touching the ground.

But this only stops the weeds that are trying to crawl through. You cant do much about the seeds that will blow over. Just keep pulling them put, before they seed.


One of the best ways to keep weeds out in the presence of lots of weed seeds that you can't control is to use black plastic (not landscaping fabric; they can grow through landscaping fabric more easily, since it's porous). Of course, you still have to pull up weeds from the holes where you plant things, but it's a lot less weeds, and more manageable.

Landscaping fabric and mulch are often used, but some weeds from neighbor's yards grow right through mulch, in my experience (e.g. we had loads of prickly lettuce growing through ours this year).

Even tiny holes in black plastic can give opportunities for weeds (so be careful not to puncture it, especially as pulling up those weeds can make the holes bigger).

You could also try solarizing the ground to kill some weed seeds. Don't expect 100% elimination, but it may cut down on the weeds considerably.

Raised beds and containers can be helpful as long as they don't get weed seeds in them. They do tend to be easier to weed than just plain ground, though.

Another thing to do is grow crops that choke out the weeds, before the weeds get big enough.

And if you can't beat the weeds, you can sometimes make sure the less problematic weeds are the ones that are taking over. Pull up the most problematic ones first.

  • The plastic will completely sterilize the soil by totally preventing oxygen exchange with the soil. It could be useful, perhaps in a six inch strip (12 or more inches apart) with vegetable plants growing out of the middle, but should never be used to mostly or completely cover a garden. It's also impossible to water the plants except through their planting holes, which is where the weeds will also sprout. Perennial roots can be stopped with underground barriers such as edging or aluminum flashing,
    – Jurp
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 22:03
  • It doesn't completely sterilize the soil. Plenty of oxygen goes under the plastic through the planting holes (and any wind out there will thoroughly ventilate it). I've used black plastic for many years. Plants can grow in it just fine (many plants even better than without it). But yes, it's difficult to water (fortunately, you don't need as much water with it, though). It does get very hot and dark, though, which could kill some stuff, but if there are planting holes, it's a lot cooler, and the plants appreciate the extra warmth that is left, often. Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 22:17
  • Actually, plastic does indeed prohibit nearly all if not all oxygen exchange - the planting holes are way too small for this to happen. If the mulch covers a small area, then it's really not a huge deal (as I noted in my comment) because the rest of the soil will contain enough microorganisms and invertebrates to recolonize the covered soil. I will post a reference when I can find it again (lost my bookmarks in a computer crash).
    – Jurp
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 0:00
  • As promised, go here for much, much more information on the use of sheet mulches (cardboard, paper, landscape fabric and plastics in particular): gardenprofessors.com/the-cardboard-controversy Be sure to read the comments; I suggest searching for "oxygen" on the page. A couple quotes: "The only things using oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide are microbes. In a real world, soil is full not just of microbes, but roots and animals tlat all require oxygen. Oxygen is THE limting factor as you travel downwards in soil, so anything that slows gas exchange will limit oxygen availability."
    – Jurp
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 16:35
  • To continue the previous comments: "Sheet mulching, as compared to three-dimensional mulch (like arborist chips) is bad for soil life, period. There is absolutely no published evidence to the contrary." Author of this information is Linda Chalker-Scott, Professor Emerita Washington State University. She also cites a paper in this post and discusses the results in the comments.
    – Jurp
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 16:37

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