Sprinklers off or friendly neighbor?
July 12, 2006 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Do I need to turn my sprinklers off when someone parks in front of my house with their car windows down? There's currently someone, probably next door or a few houses down parked in front of my house with their windows down. The idea of having our sprinklers on a timer is so we can kind of "forget" about turning them on and off. My gut instinct is to go next door and tell the person - they're relatively new neighbors. But then again I'm almost always too nice. Most everyone I talk to says it's not my problem - it's theirs. Part of me thinks I should be nice but the other part of me thinks I can't be street monitor. Opinions? Similar experiences?
posted by philad to Home & Garden (30 answers total)
Friendly neighbor! If you give it a good faith effort to tell someone they're looking at a soggy interior, they will likely be super appreciative. Once you've told them once, they're on their own. You're not a total dick if you omit this part, but if you can see it coming it seems like a nice way to avert someone else's small inconveience.
posted by jessamyn at 5:27 PM on July 12, 2006

I'd turn 'em off.. If I came out to my car and it had wet seats, my first thought would not be "hmm, this person has automatic sprinklers, I should have rolled up my windows" it would be "Wow, that arsehole turned on his sprinkler and soaked my seats"
posted by davey_darling at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2006

Go over there now and warn them, or you'll end up apologizing later with your too nice thing. Plus, be a good neighbor and not somebody that lives next door.
posted by cmfletcher at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2006

Tell them.
As for the people who tell you it's not your problem...well, I hope you don't consider them the kind of friends you can rely on.
posted by rocket88 at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2006

I think it's your problem. If the sprinklers weren't on when they parked, how are they supposed to know that water is going to be sprayed into their car when it's sitting there? Why are your sprinklers spraying water into the street anyhow? At a minimum you should go and warn them, and I think that the polite thing to do is to re-aim your sprinklers or turn them off when someone is parked in front with their windows down.
posted by cameldrv at 5:37 PM on July 12, 2006

When we first moved here, people always used to park in front of my house so they could attend the seemingly-constant parties next door. Whenever it was watering time, I would knock on their front door and tell whomever answered that I was about to turn on the sprinklers, so if dry cars were a priority they had about five minutes to move them.

I'd say about 90% of the time they'd move them, and thank me for the warning. The other ten percent would roll up the windows and leave them there. Oddly, the roll-up-the-windows-and-leave-the-car-to-get-drenched contingent seemed to have the newer, nicer cars, which I never have been able to figure out.

Now we have a quieter set of neighbors, so it's not an issue any more, which is nicer all around.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:40 PM on July 12, 2006

I don't see why sprinklers should be dousing the parking places at all, but you are asking for something bad to happen if you leave your car with the windows down. Rain happens. Bird shit happens. Spitting kids happen.

But fer gad's sake: go over and let them know. Why not do a neighbor this courtesy? Whether it is "their problem" or "your problem" is a matter of opinion, but you have an easy way to make it no one's problem.
posted by scarabic at 5:42 PM on July 12, 2006

Why are you watering the concrete?

Adjust your sprinklers so they water your grass and only your grass.

If you were in my neighborhood and I was walking by and your sprinkler was hitting the road or sidewalk and blocking my path, I would pick it up and put it on your porch or place it in your lobby if your door was open.
posted by dobbs at 5:49 PM on July 12, 2006

Oddly, the roll-up-the-windows-and-leave-the-car-to-get-drenched contingent seemed to have the newer, nicer cars, which I never have been able to figure out.

It's simple, those are the cars that don't have any leaks.
posted by kindall at 5:52 PM on July 12, 2006

Go and tell them, politely but firmly. Don't offer to not sprinkle or anything, just say, "Hey, welcome to the neighborhood. Oh, by the way, my sprinklers come on at 8:00, so you might want to roll your car windows up." Then, it's out of your hands for the rest of your habitation.
posted by muddgirl at 5:54 PM on July 12, 2006

"Why are you watering the concrete?

Adjust your sprinklers so they water your grass and only your grass."

A good sprinkler system should overlap the edges of the lawn, otherwise the edges turn yellow.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2006

Tell them. This should be a no-brainer. A problem is about to occur that is about to affect some other person. You both know about this problem, and are able to stop it happening. To not do so is to become an instant arsehole.
posted by Jimbob at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Overlapping the edge of the lawn does not include reaching the 3' to a car window. There are major problems here.
posted by devilsbrigade at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, I should clarify: The sprinklers are most definitely pointing away from the street but the mist and the wind sometimes blow it towards cars parked on the street (the grass and sprinklers sit right next to the curb). I didn't mean to give the impression that someone's interior would be soaked, just a little damp I suppose. In retrospect my question does seem quite stupid - my gut instinct to tell the people is obviously the best course of action. Thanks for the honest answers.
posted by philad at 6:02 PM on July 12, 2006

crash, there's a big diff between overlapping the edges and being high enough to go into a car.

And, frankly, I don't care if someone's edges turn yellow. There are blind people who can't see the sprinklers hitting the sidewalks and roads--there are old people who can't walk fast enough to get thru the area in question. There are kids and other folks who shouldn't have to hazard going onto the road to avoid getting themselves and their possessions wet because of the selfishness of people like the OP.

It's grass, people. Get yer priorities straight. :)

On preview...
posted by dobbs at 6:03 PM on July 12, 2006

Damn, sorry, philad, my on preview was re: the posts above yours. It does seem that your question was diff from what I thought you were asking. I was referring to those people who make their sprinklers cross driveways, sidewalks, etc, in order to hit that separate patch of grass. Sorry for calling you selfish.
posted by dobbs at 6:07 PM on July 12, 2006

Man, this is a no-brainer. What would you want him to do if the situations were reversed?
posted by Hildago at 6:10 PM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: dobbs - thank you. That I would even ask the question was colored by two things - a shitty day at work and if it was the neighbors to the right of me they don't even acknowledge us when we try to be friendly. Turns out the car belonged to someone 2 houses down and in the time it took me to post the question and read a couple of responses I totally forgot about the sprinklers and the person moved the car to in front of their house - am going over to apologize now.
posted by philad at 6:22 PM on July 12, 2006

Can you put a sign on a post by the curb announcing what time the sprinklers go on? That way parkers have been warned and you don't have to be vigilant at all times.
posted by xo at 6:28 PM on July 12, 2006

This is a bit of a derail, but here goes... Your profile doesn't give your location, but here in Texas, and in Califormia, too, when I lived there, people were recommended to water in the early morning. For our system, we have it come on at either 5am or 6am (we don't reset the clock for Daylight Savings Time). It's almost inconceivable that someone on our street, close to downtown, would park with their windows open for more than a few minutes. I can't imagine anyone leaving the windows open overnight, since that's almost a guarantee that someone would rifle through the interior of the car.

Anyhow, watering in the early morning allows the water to soak in before the heat of the day evaporates it. Some cities that have water shortages require watering either in early morning or in evening. In the evening, the grass will stay wet longer, giving you perhaps a greater chance of encouraging fungus (or so our local gardening column said).

After all that, if you are watering when you see cars with open windows outside, please do try to warn the owners. It's the neighborly thing to do. But also consider revising your watering schedule.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:48 PM on July 12, 2006

Another solution is to adjust your timers to water late at night/early in the morning (I am assuming the neighbors don't leave their windows down all night). This has the added advantage of being more efficient in that you are watering when less water will be lost to evaporation as well as using water when there is less demand on the system.
posted by TedW at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2006

On preview, I see I was beaten to the punch.
posted by TedW at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2006

Either go over, or leave a note under their windshield wiper before the next time they park there when you're going to use the water.

Is it a sprinkler, or an in-ground sprinkler system, BTW?
posted by Meep! Eek! at 8:22 PM on July 12, 2006

Not to be mean, but you have the right to water your lawn, but you don't have the right to water the sidewalk or street, nevermind someone's car who is not parked on your property. If you must water the edge of your lawn, use a perforated sprinkler hose.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:48 PM on July 12, 2006

Maybe put up a small sign that says "Warning Sprinklers!"?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:02 PM on July 12, 2006

Well, if the window is open, it should be very easy for you to get into the car and shut the window. It's not as good as finding them and telling them about the sprinklers directly, but it's better than ruining their interior.
posted by donkeymon at 3:30 AM on July 13, 2006

donkeymon, if they have power windows, it won't be very easy for you to raise them, unless the keys are also in the ignition.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:11 AM on July 13, 2006

Who parks their car with their windows open?

I doubt you would be liable for any damages, but it's best to be a good neighbor, if you can.
posted by bshort at 7:23 AM on July 13, 2006

Who knew so many people had opinions on the ethics of sprinklers? So much so that some would be willing to trespass and ruin private property to make a point?

Anyway, if you have knowledge that your property is about to cause damage to something on public property, then no-fucking-duh, you should at least try to do something about it. If you're with the Good Guys, and you couldn't get ahold of the car owner in question, you should turn off your sprinkler. Christ, who are these people you talk to? I'm not religious, but I at least follow the Golden Rule.
posted by deadfather at 8:13 AM on July 13, 2006

My take is that if it's just mist drifting into their car, it's probably not worth a big worry. But no one in my neighborhood leaves their windows down ever.

P.S. This is the sweetest thread ever. Watering the lawn, being nice to neighbors, apologies, forgiveness...
posted by salvia at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2006

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