The 10 biggest neighbour bugbears

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Getting on with your neighbours is as difficult as it is essential, and when we eventually get a spot of sunshine things get even harder, as we all head out into the garden to well and truly get on one another's nerves.

The BBC's Gardener's World magazine asked people what irritates them most about the neighbours in the garden. And they came up with some surprising answers.

Odd choices

Nestling within the top ten is a hot tub. It seems hard to be tremendously irritating in a hot tub, but apparently it's the combination of endless bubbling and the kind of noisy parties it tends to encourage among their owners. It's not known whether envy features in the list of reasons why a hot tub should be such a cause of garden rage.

Another odd one in the top ten was BBQ smoke. This is hardly something that many of us have had to put up with over this summer. However, just how bad can this be? The average BBQ isn't going to burn for hours, and even then the smokey stage should be over and done with quickly. Again, you have to wonder whether the rage stems from the couple sitting next door munching on a cheese sandwich and listening to your steaks sizzle.

Typical

However, others were far more predictable. Noisy television and radio were on the list. It's bad enough listening to them through the wall, but al fresco you can get even more familiar with your neighbour's choice of music. Likewise late night parties are understandably irritating.

It's not safe to improve your property on a sunny day either, as power tools will wind people up. You should also think twice about protecting your home, as a house alarm or bright security light will get them hot under the collar. And don't even think about owning a cat - or having children - as they are bound to create neighbourhood tension.

However, the best on this list has to be number ten. Apparently bins are a major source of garden rage. It's not known whether people are throwing out things that are too smelly, or whether they noisily visit the bins in the night. Who knows, maybe they regularly miss the bin and have litter blowing across the neighbourhood. Other than that, it's hard to know how you could be truly irritating with a bin - unless you invited the cast of Stomp round.

What can you do

Lucy Hall, the editor of Gardener's World, said: "We all lead such busy lives that our gardens are more important than ever as a place of calm and relaxation. Modern life often breaks that sense of peace but with a few well-chosen plants and features, anyone can create the haven they want. The key to success is choosing the right sort of screening to block prying eyes, unwanted noises and even strident smells."

Clearly you can think about how you use your garden in order to stay away from the biggest irritations. However, if you cannot cover up your irritations, you many have to take action. The first stage should be to talk to your neighbour and try to come to an amicable agreement. If that doesn't work, talk to the council about any irritations such as noise or bin use which could come under their auspices.

If things haven't gone too far, you could consider mediation, so a professional mediator will help you come to an agreement. And in the worst case scenario you may have to go to court. The only trouble with this is that by the time you are staring your neighbour down in a court room, the chances of you being happy sitting yards from them in the garden are very slim indeed.

But what do you think? What are the most annoying things your neighbours get up to in the summer? What have you done about it? Let us know in the comments.

Top ten irritations:

Television and radio
Late night parties
Children
Power tools
House alarms
Hot tubs
Barbecue smoke
Cats
Bright security lights
Bins

The best of the rest:

Children on trampolines
Bonfires in summer
Adults using garden as a toilet
Drunken swearing
Cigarette smoke
Trees blocking the view
Mobile phones
Stray chickens
Nosy neighbours
Loud arguments
Barking dogs
Wind chimes
Groups of middle-aged women shrieking on summer evenings

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