Dear Blake,

My sister-in-law moved into the house next door three years ago. While I enjoy her company and like her as a person, I’m having difficulty expressing my frustration with one particular issue.

I have a beautiful hedge that separates our driveways and provides privacy. She regularly leaves her garbage can lids on top of my hedge as well as various other things she’s discarding (eventually). Today I noticed a large portion of the shrub showing what appears to be a chemical burn. (She has been known to use toxic chemicals to rid her yard of weeds, etc.) I don’t want to offend her, but at the same time, I’m struggling to find the words to properly address my desire for her to mind the property line. Help!

Signed, Doug
From Phoenix, Arizona

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Dear Doug,

Because your sister-in-law is now family, you must do everything to keep the peace. Since shrubs are “replaceable”, you should focus on that word, and use it in a way that you can get even with that insensitive witch. Ok, here are some ideas. You can replace the shrub with cactuses, and if your sister-in-law ever gets intoxicated, inconspicuously push her into the prickly plant. Once she sobers up, she’ll never go anywhere near the new property divider. The next time she uses toxic chemicals for her weed issues, assist her and accidental spray some on the top of her head, and then she’ll have to replace her hair with a wig. Or, you can replace the shrubs with an electric fence, and she’ll get a historical firsthand experience to a popular method of execution used in the 19 century. However if you don’t want to make waves, when she damages a shrub, just replace it. But when you do, use an excessive amount of fertilizer, and then get the biggest fan you can find that blows the “aroma” toward her front door. And if you have any fertilizer left over, smear it over all of her windows as a form of “tinting”. And hopefully she’ll appreciate your efforts, because it will reduce the blistering Arizona sun from causing her to have astronomical summer electric bills. It also show that you aren’t going to take any more crap from her. I hope this helps.