Smells from neighbor's property wafting into our backyard

I know this is a super trivial question given everything going on right now, but because we're home pretty much 24/7, we spend way more time time in our backyard. The problem is that our next door neighbor runs her dryer seemingly constantly and our backyard always smells like dryer sheets, which give me a headache and makes me have to go inside. Either this neighbor is somehow upwind of us at all times, or our backyard is some kind of vortex that sucks all smells towards it, because there's just a continuous blanket of dryer sheet smell hanging over our yard. I can't discuss this with the neighbor because she stopped speaking to us over street parking issues years ago. Anyone have any suggestions? I know I'm lucky she doesn't smoke, but gosh I hate the smell of dryer sheets!!

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This sounds awful but I think you are going to have to just deal with it as best you can.  If you were friendly with her, you could ask her what days she does laundry so you could do backyard activities on her off days. But given the situation, you'll have to just avoid your yard when she's running the dryer. Maybe put lights up in the back so you can enjoy the outdoors at night when the dryer isn't running? Keep telling yourself that it could be worse. She could have barking dogs or smoke a lot of cigarettes or play loud music!  Look forward to windy days that disperse the smell. Hang in there.

Would it help to turn on a fan in your backyard, blowing the scent back where it came from? Maybe an oscillating one? I have a tall one on a stand that blows pretty strong (from Lasco, I think). It wasn’t very expensive. You could make your own breeze, and see if that helps.

I'd suggest talking to her, and trying to rekindle a relationship.  There is zero way around that, and taking any kind of legal action or filing a nuisance claim will exacerbate your problem (I could see her throwing in 5 sheets vs 1 out of spite).  We are not on great terms with our next door neighbors, and definitely hit a rough patch 18 mo ago.  But we've actively tried to make peace.  When we asked that they not let their new adopted dog out alone (she howls and is 100 lbs) after 9pm, we also dropped off organic dog treats, and acknowledged she was a special, precious member of their family and we hated to ask, but wanted to know if they could "help" us get more sleep with our fussy reflux baby who is a light sleeper.  Framing it as - you're a good person, I think you're a good person who could help me out, and here's something for you in gratitude" is a great place to start. 

If you all have bugged her with street parking habits previously, maybe now is the season for a mea culpa (maybe you now realize you value a scent-free backyard more than parking in "her" spot?).  Perhaps you can reach out via a handwritten note - wish her well, say you hope she/her family are healthy, and say this season made you realize how interconnected we actually all are.  Ask forgiveness (use that word) for how you got mad/discounted her needs/whatever you can apologize for over street parking in the past, and say you wonder if you can begin to XXX (whatever she wanted before) now?  Then say, in this spirit of mending things, we were curious if you'd be willing to not run your dryer between X-Y o'clock each day, or at least most days?  We're sensitive to scents and would really love to be outdoors more but your dryer exhaust is in direct line with our outdoor space and your laundry fragrance (like all fragrances for me) causes severe headaches.

If this doesn't work and she's a renter, you can try reaching out to the building owner for help.  They might be able to ask her to only do laundry at X hours or not use fragrance.  We got a landlord to ask the tenant of their ADU to quit opening their windows when they smoked pot, as it drifted right into our backyard and made it miserable to be outside - and it was going on from 6am - 10pm every single day.  Now it rarely happens.

Good luck!

Start with a courteous note asking her to move or extend her dryer vent. Not hard to do and quite basic. If she doesn’t, I believe you can at the very least greatly improve the situation with a couple of high powered fans, well positioned (pointed at her yard, obviously). 

Boy, can I ever relate to this. Dryer sheets, and scented laundry detergent give me a massive headache too. I actually would rather smell cigarette smoke than scented cleaning products. I think maybe all you can do is keep your windows closed and stay inside when she's doing laundry. The smell usually dissipates within a couple of hours. So sorry you're having to deal with this.

My former neighbour never picked up her dog's poop so our backyard always reeked of animal waste.  It was nauseating and impossible to spend anytime back there!  I feel for you.  Could you start a conversation apologising for the parking issue from years ago?  Otherwise you might try buying a really large industrial fan and position it near the fence where the dryer vents.  What was the parking issue?

Just be glad it's dryer sheets and not dog poop! Our neighbor has two large dogs and they make a LOT of poop. He cleans it up maybe once every couple of months. And they bark all the time too. Could you write her a note if she won't speak to you? Maybe you could try to repair that relationship and get to a point where you could find a compromise about the dryer sheets (like maybe she could just use unscented ones!).

I soooo feel for you!  I live very close to my heavily smoking neighbor and thanks to the bay breeze, I get weed and cigarette smoke frequently and at all hours.  We do have a 6' fence, which helps.  But the breeze definitely goes one direction, which is straight to my home, both first & second floors.  We can't have a window open on three sides of the house without a portable fan in that room, blowing towards the window to push the smoke out.  I used to be a "windows-open" type of person for many months of the year, but I've had to compromise on that due to the smoke.  

The neighbor & I did have an agreement regarding smoking certain hours and locations, but that went by the wayside after a few months.  The neighbor only smokes outside, so clearly understands that one does not want smoke in the house.  

I just installed a somewhat large portable fan in the backyard on my garage.  The fan faces slightly upwards and at a slight angle towards the neighbor's yard.  It definitely diverts the smoke, not really blowing it back towards the neighbor, but more between the two houses and away from the backyard. I wish I had done this years ago, because it has made a HUGE difference for the backyard!  

Feel free to email for a better explanation and a picture!

Maybe a high powered fan in your yard would disperse the odor? You could try borrowing one first to see if it works before you buy, or buy one from a place that permits returns within 30 days. 

Maybe borrow a big fan and try blowing the smell away from your backyard? Sounds like you have a fraught relationship with your neighbor ...

I've been in your situation and can completely relate.  Only solution would be to talk to your neighbor, but appears that bridge has been burned.  The good news is it could be worse.  I have a friend, around 5:00 just as the wind starts blowing.  His neighbor smokes dope for 1-2 hours with the smoke being blow directly at his house.  Sometimes I'll give him a ride home and I'm gagging.  Try baking some cookies and see if you can start a dialog with a basket of cookies.

I don't think it is trivial at all. That smell is vile! And if the dryer is on all the time, it seems intentional. Neighbors can be obnoxious!

First off, who won the street parking fight? If you won, would you be willing to use that as a bargaining chip? She can have parking the way she wants it, in exchange for limited and scheduled dryer times? Does she ever want/need anything from you? That is the time to ask for something in return. 

Is there a way to funnel the smell? higher fence? More fence? A canvas gazebo? Canvas sail?

Maybe get an  air filter and a long extension cord so you can bring it in the back yard?

What about mediation? I think Berkeley has a free service for neighbors. In other areas, you may have to pay someone. 

I hope you are able to solve this problem so that you can enjoy your backyard. 

What if you ordered and had shipped to her a huge case of fragrance-free dryer sheets with a gift note saying a gift from your neighbor? Like a year's supply? I would think she would use them rather than waste them and might get used to the brand and buy it when the supply is gone. Or you'd get a year of no headaches while you're home more than usual. Of course, you'd need to be prepared for the possibility she wouldn't use them, or has a big supply of the stinky ones...

Original poster here. Thanks so much for all the stories, commiseration, and great suggestions. I am trying to figure out how to mend fences but don't want to do it over/because of this issue as I worry she'll think I'm not sincere (regardless of this issue, I really would like a better relationship). For now I'm glad people have had success with fans, that's what I'm going to try. If she and I get back on better terms, I will also consider the gift of unscented dryer sheets or maybe even asking if we can pay to have her vent re-located. Anyway, thanks again, community!!