Wasting water is an unfortunate reality many homeowners face.
According to studies, the average family loses about 180 gallons per week, or over 9,000 gallons annually, from leaks in their home’s plumbing alone.
Beyond drips and faulty toilet flappers, outdoor irrigation systems are another major source of water waste.
If you’ve noticed your grass turning swampy whenever your neighbor runs their sprinklers, you’re not alone.
Dealing with a neighbor‘s sprinkler spray encroaching on your yard is a common nuisance that drives many homeowners to distractions.
But before you start eyeing their prize roses as collateral damage, there are better ways to remedy the situation.
Here is a comparison of some of the dispute resolution options you can use in case your neighbor’s sprinkler is hitting your property:
|Method||How it Works||Approx. Cost|
|Talking to Neighbor||Present the case to an arbitrator who decides the resolution||Free|
|Mediation||Meet with a neutral mediator to find a mutual solution||$200-$350 per hour|
|Arbitration||Present the case to an arbitrator who decides resolution||$1000-$2000|
|Lawsuit||Take legal action requesting damages or injunction||$5000+|
If you’re dealing with this pesky problem, it can quickly escalate into a drain on your time, money, and neighborhood relationships. But don’t start digging trenches or building spite fences just yet!
In this post, I’ll walk you through some simple steps you can take to redirect your neighbor’s sprinkler spray away from your yard.
What should I do if my neighbor’s sprinklers are hitting my property?
Alright, let’s dive into some practical steps you can take if your neighbor’s sprinkler spray is encroaching on your turf.
1. Check local regulations
Before doing anything else, familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations related to irrigation systems.
Many municipalities restrict when and how long sprinklers can run. They may also have rules about directing sprinkler spray onto neighboring properties.
For example, in Rhode Island, it’s illegal to spray irrigation water over property lines that cause damage.
So check your city codes to see if they offer any guidance for your situation. Having the law on your side can give you more leverage in getting your neighbor to adjust their watering schedule or sprinkler direction.
2. Evaluate your yard
Closely inspect the parts of your yard being hit by the sprinkler spray.
Determine if it’s merely a nuisance or actually damaging your landscaping.
A little extra water likely won’t harm your lawn or garden beds. But if you notice erosion, drowned vegetation, or excessive pooling – you likely need to take action.
Document any damage through dated pictures and written records. This evidence will help if you need to take legal action down the road.
3. Talk to your neighbor
Here’s where a little neighborly diplomacy can go a long way.
Approach your neighbor in a friendly manner and explain the issue – their sprinkler spray is encroaching on your property and causing damage. Assume they don’t realize there’s a problem and give them the benefit of the doubt.
I’ve found that directly showing my neighbor the overspray issue immediately after their sprinklers have run often makes the problem clear.
Photos, videos, and measurements can also help demonstrate exactly where their water is ending up.
Chances are your neighbor will be mortified and quickly agree to adjust their sprinkler direction or pressure. If you spot any misaligned heads, offer to lend a hand fixing their system so the problem is resolved faster.
4. Offer solutions
If your initial request doesn’t get your neighbor to budge, you may need to offer additional solutions to fix the overspray issue.
Here are some ideas you can suggest:
- Adjusting the spray pattern or direction of heads near your property line
- Lowering water pressure, which affects spray distance
- Capping off specific heads to create a buffer near your yard
- Working together to install a diversion border to block spray
- Using more efficient rotary nozzles to tightly control watering zones
- Adjusting the irrigation schedule to minimize runoff into your yard
Come armed with options so you can collaborate on finding the best remedy. Your neighbors will be more receptive if they feel like you’re working together.
Offer to split the cost of materials or labor if needed. For example, you could each pay half to have a sprinkler company optimize their system or install shielding. A little give and take goes a long way.
5. Document everything
If your neighbor refuses to adjust their irrigation after repeated requests, it’s time to get serious about documentation.
- Take photos and videos showing exactly where the sprinkler spray is encroaching. Measure the distance into your yard.
- Note dates, times, and durations of watering. If they’re violating local regulations, report them.
- Log any damage to your property, like erosion, plant loss, or wet areas prone to mosquito breeding.
- Record all your conversations, phone calls, texts, and emails requesting they address the problem.
This evidence will bolster your case if you end up needing mediation, arbitration, or have to take legal action as a last resort.
6. Contact your HOA
If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA), reach out to them about your sprinkler woes.
Most HOAs have rules about maintaining your property in ways that don’t negatively impact neighbors.
For example, many prohibit draining swimming pools in ways that flood adjoining lots. The same logic should apply to sprinkler overspray.
Check your HOA bylaws and covenants to see if they address irrigation runoff.
If not, request they officially prohibit spraying water onto neighboring properties. The HOA can then send warnings, fines, or use other means to force compliance.
Having the weight of your HOA behind you puts a lot more pressure on a stubborn neighbor. If they know violating sprinkler rules could impact their standing in the community or engender financial penalties, they’ll likely fall in line.
7. Hire a surveyor
If your neighbor continues denying their sprinklers spray onto your yard, it may be smart to hire a professional surveyor to settle property lines once and for all.
A certified land survey will remove any doubt where the legal boundaries between your lots lie. If the report shows your neighbor’s sprinkler heads or spray are illegally over the line, you have ironclad proof to demand a remedy.
Be sure to get a few quotes first, as survey costs can vary widely depending on the complexity of the job.
In my area, prices range from $300 – $700 for a standard residential lot.
8. Install barriers
If your neighbor proves resistant to adjusting their irrigation, another option is to install barriers to block the spray.
- Hedges or bushes
- Low garden fences
- Gravel trenches
- Small berms (mounds of dirt)
- Rain gutters or drains to divert water
Aim for simple, affordable options that don’t impede access or your views. You want to avoid an escalating fence war!
Make sure any structures or drainage comply with local codes, too.
With a creative barrier, you can take matters into your own hands without needing your neighbor’s approval. Just be sure to politely remind them the issue could be fixed more easily from their end.
9. Mediation and arbitration
If you’ve reached an impasse with your neighbor, mediation or arbitration may help resolve the dispute. Both options provide a framework for working through disagreements with the assistance of a neutral third party.
In mediation, you and your neighbor sit down together with a mediator to communicate your perspectives and, ideally, reach a mutual solution. The mediator facilitates discussion but doesn’t impose an outcome. The goal is for you and your neighbor to collaborate on fixing the problem yourselves.
With arbitration, you each present your side of the dispute to an arbitrator, who then makes a final, legally binding decision. This resolution process is less collaborative but may be necessary if your neighbor refuses to compromise.
Mediation or arbitration costs much less than taking legal action. And the rulings often stick better between neighbors since you both participated in the process. So before lawyering up, give these alternative dispute resolution methods a shot.
10. Seek legal action
If all else fails, your last resort may be taking legal action against your stubborn neighbor and their soaking sprinklers.
Start by having a lawyer draft a “cease and desist” letter detailing the issue and demanding your neighbor stop spraying water onto your property. Make clear you will pursue additional legal remedies if they don’t comply.
If the letter doesn’t prompt action, you may need to file a lawsuit requesting an injunction to force adjustments or monetary damages to cover your losses.
You can also report them to authorities for any regulation violations.
I’d advise working with a real estate attorney familiar with local property laws. Though expensive, legal action may be your only recourse with a difficult neighbor who ignores all attempts to be reasonable.
11. Seek a restraining order
In extreme cases where your neighbor intentionally and persistently uses their sprinkler system to harass you or damage your property, you may need to pursue a restraining order.
A restraining order legally prohibits your neighbor from engaging in certain acts against you or your property. For example, a judge could order your neighbor not to spray irrigation water onto your yard.
To obtain a restraining order, you’ll need solid evidence, like photos, videos, and records showing a pattern of intentional overspray despite your requests to stop. Witness accounts from other neighbors can also help demonstrate it’s targeted harassment.
A temporary restraining order takes effect immediately until your court date. Then, a judge can extend it by issuing an injunction if you prove your case. Violating a restraining order can result in stiff fines or even jail time.
Pursuing a restraining order is a serious matter and means your relationship with your neighbor is likely fractured beyond repair.
But it may be necessary if they continue intentionally directing sprinklers onto your property despite your best efforts to get them to stop.
Dealing with a neighbor’s sprinkler spray encroaching on your yard is certainly frustrating. But armed with a little knowledge, patience, and diplomacy – you can usually reach an amicable solution.
Start by checking local regulations related to irrigation runoff. Evaluate any damage being caused.
Then, approach your neighbor politely to make them aware of the issue. Offer to work together on potential remedies like adjusting spray patterns or installing barriers.
Document all your efforts, and don’t hesitate to get your HOA or other authorities involved if needed. Only use legal action or lawsuits as a last resort once all neighborly options have failed.