Many homeowners feel safer when their yard is well lit, but lighting can be bothersome when it's aimed incorrectly or spills over parts of a yard that are better off without it. You may be wondering what you can do to block your neighbor's light. We have thoroughly looked into this subject and have some solutions for you.
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To block your neighbor's light or reduce the impact on your yard or windows, consider one of the following options.
- Install a privacy fence or side awning
- Cover an existing fence with a privacy screen
- Provide shade for your garden
- Hang blackout curtains
- Enlist your neighbor's help
Light shining obtrusively in your windows or over your garden can be frustrating, and the situation can be difficult to handle. We'll break down each of our solutions for reducing or blocking a neighbor's light. Keep reading as we discuss what light trespass is and give you tips on how to speak about this issue with your neighbor.
What Is The Meaning Of Light Trespass?
Light trespass is when light shines on places where it was not wanted and not intended. Other terms for light trespass include light nuisance, light harassment, and light pollution.
Is Light Trespass Illegal?
There are now at least 19 states that have regulations regarding light pollution. More commonly, light trespass is handled at the city or neighborhood level, using enacted ordinances or neighborhood regulations.
In most states, even those without a light law, if the lights are aimed incorrectly or are deemed bright enough, they can still be considered a common nuisance. You will have to prove that the light is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property.
How Do You Deal With Light Trespass?
Anytime there is an issue with your neighbors, it can be a sensitive subject, especially if you plan on being neighbors for any length of time. Though light nuisance may be handled legally, most experts agree it's best to try and solve the issue on your own amicably first before going the legal route.
Research your neighborhood's ordinances and by-laws before constructing anything on your property. You may need to get a permit for some types of structures.
It's also helpful to contact your HOA or city code enforcement since they may be able to help you resolve the issue without you having to invest money.
1. Install A Privacy Fence Or Side Awning
A privacy fence is a tall fence that can be made from almost any material. There are privacy screens made from wood, metal, or a mesh-type material. They range from being entirely opaque to allowing some light to pass through.
Consider a retractable privacy fence or side awning, as they are relatively inexpensive and versatile. They can be placed precisely where needed and inconspicuously retracted when not in use.
Note this option works well for shielding a part of your deck or outdoor sitting area. It also is great for keeping the light from affecting your garden. You'll be able to retract it during the day, so your plants still get sunlight.
2. Cover An Existing Fence With A Privacy Screen
If you already have a tall fence and would like to make it light-proof, cover it with a privacy screen. Most kits include everything you need to affix the screening to an existing fence. They are usually protective against UV and are weather resistant.
If you would like to cover your fence less conspicuously, you can either plant climbing plants like vines or tomatoes or cover it with artificial foliage. Artificial ivy is a popular and lightweight option.
Measure your fence and easily customize this decoration to your fence size. Users like that it provides privacy and is decorative.
3. Provide Shade For Your Garden
Light can negatively affect certain plants and the way they flower. If you want to protect your garden from artificial lighting, you can set up a shade for your garden. Since your garden will most likely need sun during the day, you'll want to strategically place a shade, or install an umbrella or mobile awning.
A patio umbrella may be a good idea if the light is very strong and concentrated in one spot. It can be placed anywhere as a standalone fixture, and it can be aimed or moved to protect things from any offending light. Close it during the day or reposition it as shade from the sun.
This YouTuber found an inexpensive and fast way to block his neighbor's light from a small area of his yard. He uses two metal dowels and a weather-resistant tarp to provide shelter from light pollution.
4. Hang Blackout Curtains
If you don't mind the light entering your yard, but it's interfering with your sleep, or shining on your television and ruining your movie, use blackout curtains to curb the problem.
Blackout curtains are opaque curtains that are double-lined. They are also retailed as thermal curtains and can provide energy savings during the summer and winter months.
These curtains have insulated pockets, and the darker colors block light quite well. They also reduce noise and help balance a room's temperature.
5. Enlist Your Neighbor's Help
Your neighbor may not be aware that their lighting choices have become an issue for you. If you do not have previous grievances with your neighbor, you may consider enlisting their help in solving the problem.
Approach them as if you are asking for help, which might make a difference in how they respond.
Ask Your Neighbor To Install Motion Sensors
Instead of installing a privacy fence or fixtures, it may be more affordable to ask your neighbor to install motion sensors and offer to split the costs. If they want the lights on all the time, they may consider a different type of bulb or light that is less intrusive.
Invite Your Neighbor Over
If you have an established rapport with your neighbor, consider inviting them to see how the light is hitting your yard firsthand. Explaining how light is interfering with your sleep or how it may be affecting your garden may be effective. Keep your explanation as short and positive as possible.
Write A Letter
If a face-to-face conversation makes you uncomfortable, try writing a letter. You still want to write as if you are asking for help. Offer to work together to come to a compromise.
Offer alternatives that may work for both you and your neighbor. It could also be an introduction letter inviting them to talk about the issue.
Do Lights Deter Crime
When dealing with a neighbor's light nuisance, it's helpful to remember that they are most likely using their lights for extra security. Most homeowners report feeling safer with outdoor lights.
Whether lights deter crime is still being debated. A recent study showed that lighting in communities like apartment complexes and bigger cities might prevent crime.
Overall, there have been numerous studies that show that although lights make people feel safer, property crime levels may not be affected.
Now that you know how to block intrusive light, and have some tips for discussing the problem with your neighbor, get your plan in motion. Whatever action you take, the solution to light pollution may be less complicated than you thought!
Interested in more ideas on how you can protect your privacy? Check out these articles for more ways to cover your windows and doors.