How to prevent neighbour knocking my wheelie bin over with their car?
April 15, 2020 6:46 AM   Subscribe

I have two wheelie bins at the front of my garden. My neighbour has several times driven their car out of the adjacent parking space in their garden leaving clear tyre tracks and my bins lying on their sides. There is also a small dent in my car and I think flying bins are the cause. They were seriously verbally abusive in the past so I am really not feeling able to address this by talking to them. (Also we are in social distancing lockdown). What to do?

There is just enough room for my car and the bins at the front of my garden. There is my parking space, a steeply stepped path to my house, and a narrow shrub border between the two gardens. The bins sit at the bottom of the path and on the border area - no plants for the first couple of feet, just flattened soil. There isn’t anywhere else I can put the bins. There are no fences in the front of any of the houses in my street, I think it might be a local rule not to have them.

They have been cutting the corner and driving right across the flattened soil area where the bins are - tyre tracks are pretty clear. I have to drive my own car out on my other neighbours side in the same way but I manage without hitting anything. It is really not difficult to avoid doing. This feels so deliberate - I mean, who knocks someone else’s bin over and then just leaves them lying there.

The previous abusive rant arose when I came home to find they’d come into my garden and cut down a shrub while I was out. I knocked on the door, wanting to try to talk it out but the woman seemed drunk and was really vile. I rented out the house for a couple of years and there were huge arguments between her and my tenants who claimed to have been racially abused by her. This feels intimidating and I’m quite upset by it. I pretty obsessively avoid them and don’t feel able to leave my house if they are outside.

When picking up and shoving debris back in the bin, I do have some revenge fantasies about putting broken glass / sharp objects on the soil to destroy their tyres. Satisfying as that would be, I don’t want to escalate things further.

I bought a Ring doorbell which I’ve tried to set to catch this so I have evidence in case I need it but have struggled between ‘alerts every 10 minutes when anyone drives past’ and not capturing them doing this.

Are there any other non confrontational and non escalating solutions here you can think of?
posted by ElasticParrot to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Put a large decorative urn on the corner of the flattened soil area and fill it with dirt (so it's heavy) and flowers. Optional: Spray paint it in a color that contrasts with their car. If it's PVC it may not break in case your neighbor hits it anyway. It might damage their car, satisfying your revenge fantasies, but it will also leave a clear bit of evidence--especially if some paint residue lands on their bumper-- you can point to in case you need to write a note or escalate some other way.
posted by carmicha at 7:09 AM on April 15, 2020 [11 favorites]

I'd put up a nice sturdy wooden post at the front corner of your property, on your side of the boundary - tall & solid enough to be obvious & to put a decent dent into anyone's bumper who was daft enough to drive into it. Use a bag of Postcrete or equivalent to make sure it stays put.

No need to have a conversation about it if you're not going to get any sense out of them.
posted by rd45 at 7:13 AM on April 15, 2020 [24 favorites]

I agree the previous two replies about putting some kind of immoveable object on your boundary line.
posted by essexjan at 7:20 AM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

It appears you need to keep whatever is in your bins, but if that is flexible, what if you filled the bins with water for a bit and waited for them to hit one?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:40 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

The traditional solution would be penguin bollards, but as they currently seem to be out of stock, any heavy, immovable object on the corner of your boundary would stop this.
posted by tinkletown at 7:56 AM on April 15, 2020 [7 favorites]

I like the post idea. If you are so inclined, get a length of steel pipe (4" diameter) and sink that into the corner instead, in a nice deep well of concrete. Fill the pipe with concrete as well. You can disguise the pipe with an urn, or not, as you wish.
posted by ananci at 7:58 AM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

Never mind a bollard -- a CCTV camera is cheaper.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on April 15, 2020

> Never mind a bollard -- a CCTV camera is cheaper.

But then they're stuck talking to the jerk about it, maybe trying to get them to look at the footage or show it to the authorities. I agree that some kind of barricade is better.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:13 AM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

That's really unpleasant. Where do they keep their own bins?

If there's a covenant on the house barring you from putting up a fence, or if you're in a conservation area or a private road with its own rules, I'd expect that information to have surfaced when you were buying the house. What if you put up a low fence on your side of where the bins are, so that it's completely on your property (no boundary line arguments) but when they knock the bins down, your car is protected? Might read slightly more passive, less aggressive than putting in something that could damage their car. Or... is there enough space around the bins to be able to put in something like this? Nothing to do with the neighbours' driving, you're just trying to make the bins a bit less ugly now that you're home all the time and having to look at them!

NB - for the benefit of people not from the UK, wheelie bins are tall council-issued dustbins; you typically have one for general waste and one for recycling, though it varies from council to council. As wheelie bins only came into use towards the end of the 20th century, and most of our housing stock is a good deal older than that, finding somewhere sensible to keep them can be a real problem.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:25 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't bother to spend a lot of money to put up something nice looking--there is still the chance that your neighbor will back into it and destroy it without a care in the world, and then you have to decide whether or not to confront them. I think your best bet is metal pipe or 3, set in concrete just inside the property line as described above. Make it at least waist height, paint it white or yellow and maybe add a reflector to the top so no one can accuse you of stealthy obstructions. If the neighbor drives into it, it might get bent over but will do much worse damage to their vehicle--in other words, the major consequence of their carelessness is placed back squarely on their shoulders.

I don't think video footage is going to do you any good. Who are you going to show? I can't imagine the police will be interested in your bins getting knocked over?
posted by Jemstar at 9:59 AM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

Here in Toronto, Canada, the front of houses is where all kinds of utility lines and pipes are buried so you would be required to call ahead for locates before doing any digging. So if you're going to be putting in a post, make sure you don't need to call someone about it first.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:26 AM on April 15, 2020

A very large painted rock. Maybe several.
posted by AugustWest at 11:37 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would put a sturdy, maybe resin, pot at the boundary, being careful to stay within your own space, and not too near the road, to allow some maneuverability. I'd get a pot with a hole in it, or drill a hole, and secure the pot with a very strong metal post. Fill with soil and plants. It will get hit and destroyed because, jerks. Then I'd replace it with a larger pot, taller, and full of concrete, and secured with a metal post.

Or a structure of metal pipe, set in concrete, as a sort of cage for the wheelie bins.

I would also start complaining to the police, as your neighbor seems to be a pro-level jerk, and unlikely to adapt unless a powerful entity requires it. Horrid neighbors are a great misery, my sympathies.
posted by theora55 at 12:31 PM on April 15, 2020

A steel post would be less than beautiful, unless it had some kind of decorative finial. I live near granite quarries, and have considered putting in a granite column to discourage people driving across my lawn to park on the lawn next door. I had a small stack of sharp-edged granite chunks that worked pretty well, then somebody stole them. By then, the forsythia had got so large that nobody could drive through there anyway, so problem solved.

Jerk neighbors are the worst. I had an upstairs neighbor who drove over the trashbags I'd put out for collection, as I watched. I had to rush out and collect the scattered trash before it blew all over the neighborhood. When I confronted the dickhead, he tried to deny doing it. So glad to move out of there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:19 PM on April 15, 2020

I'd put not a pipe, but a long piece of heavy channel steel like for holding a sign up. I don't want it to slightly or maybe not dent their bumper, I want it to scratch the shit out of the side of the car. Maybe put pointy wire on it too, to make it like a car finish destroying rake. (Careful not to drive into it yourself)
posted by ctmf at 5:47 PM on April 15, 2020

Maybe a collapsible bollard (like this) that you can lay down flat when bins aren’t there, and then passive aggressively make it.....ummm...erect....when your bins are out. If money was not a major issue you could even go for a removable bollard (you mount the base in concrete and then slide the pole bit in when you put your bins out ).

If done right means you don’t have a highly visible metal pole outside your house all the time - only when the bins are out.

Or if money is even less an issue - plant a tree. Not talking about a little sapling. I mean a full on “truck and a crane and 5 workers from the garden center with overalls on came to install it” type tree. Bonus points if you find a way to get that installed / subsidized as a community greening project and get the local newspaper to run a story about it with your smiling face In the foreground and the neighbor’s house in the background.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:39 PM on April 15, 2020

To clarify, I dont mean put an urn sitting on top of your concrete filled steel pipe. I mean get a tall plastic one and cut the bottom off and slide it over so the whole pipe situation is hidden. Put a bush in it if you're feeling fancy. Let them bash into your immovable decorative urn and see how they like that. If they moan, well, they shouldnt be backing their car onto your property, so sorry. Perhaps an insurance claim or two will convince them that more care is needed in avoiding your wheelie bin area.
posted by ananci at 10:21 PM on April 15, 2020

Before I found The Hotel Inspector (Alex Polizzi eps ONLY) and How Clean Is Your House? I used sometimes to watch The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door while doing the boring rote parts of my job. Driveway and wheelie bin disputes are almost the entire show. There's the odd aggressive dog problem or ugly privacy fence problem, but they are relatively rare. Wheelie bins and driveways are hands down the two worst sources of conflict in the UK. To see how other sufferers have tried and almost universally failed to solve the wheelie bin problem, watch that show. My sympathies.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:37 PM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

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