Earlier this summer, my upstairs neighbor asked me to "populate" the front porch she shares with the guy next door. It is a large space, 7' x 20' and there wasn't anything there but a bike, a bench, and a little railing running down the middle.
2 months, $120 and a lot of hard work later, it has really turned into an outdoor living room. We ran rope lighting all around the inside of the roof, and it casts the most wonderful glow. I found a big plastic table (seats 6 if they're friendly) and matching chairs in the trash. The table was discolored, but two cans of Kylon paint took care of that. Used the same paint on two ornate crib sides I found in the trash, which we hung from chains at either side of the porch to suggest a screen and break up the expanse.
Scoping out garden center and hardware store sales, we picked up 5 matching hanging baskets, and 4 18-gallon storage totes for a song. Planted them with extras from my garden, stuff from the spring swap, and sale plants. We even rigged up a "cistern" that is easily filled and holds 35 gallons of water.
Now the porch is really nice; giant cannas give it a tropical feel; there are lilies and datura and night-blooming stocks, as well as lavender and chammomile to perfume the spot. There are morning glories climbing up the railings, and nasturtiums spilling out of the baskets. There is a container of cherry tomatoes, and bunches of basil and mint tucked in the planters, in case you need a little something extra for your food after you sit down.
Unfortunately, we may have made it too attractive. Her neighbor, a much younger guy -- who lacks our interest in peaceful surroundings -- has started dragging out all sorts of ratty furniture. An old couch. A papasan chair that takes up a huge amount of space. A porch swing he's set on the floor and has no interest in hanging. A huge college football flag.
When he has friends over, they put a pair of big speakers in the window, shove some of the planters "out of the way" and hang out until 1-2am. To the point where my neighbor doesn't feel comfortable being out there. I tried to suggest maybe we could get together and figure out a way to get enough seating there so he and his friends feel comfortable, but in a way that my neighbor and I still like the way it looks. You know; tried to get him involved in the process. He feels his too much of a man to think about all of that, and besides, he likes his stuff just fine.
I'm not sure what I can do. I've tried talking to him, but it's not my porch; I live downstairs and have a front and back porch of my own. And my neighbor is a very easy-going person -- she doesn't like the way it looks, but she doesn't want to argue with him. (Alho' she threatened to deck a guy who broke a branch off her tomato plant, which she's more than capable of doing, and was pretty funny.)
Our landlord is no help; nothing grew anywhere on the property before I moved in and I'm not sure he's noticed the difference. As long as the rent is paid.... (And this guy pays more than either my neighbor or I.)
So it's unfortunate. I didn't think I'd have this problem when I took on the project.
Thanks for letting me vent!
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