DEAR ABBY: There is a row of trees and bushes along the fence that separates my neighbor's yard from mine. Our old neighbor used to keep them trimmed and under control. Unfortunately, that neighbor moved away and another family lives next door. The branches now hang over my roof -- dropping berries and leaves that cause stains on the shingles and my new contrete patio.
I asked my new neighbor several times to please keep the branches trimmed. I even had a gardener give them an estimate. The neighbors said they could not justify spending that amount of money.
After several years of waiting -- and listening to their excuses -- I trimmed the trees and bushes back myself and deposited the trimmings on the neighbors' side of the fence. They called the police. The policeman said what I did was legal, but it would have been "more neighborly" had I disposed of the trimmings myself.
The next day I offered to remove the debris, but my angry neighbor shouted, "Don't talk to me. I'll do it myself!"
This happened seven months ago. My neighbors are still not talking to my wife and me. How do I handle this? -- MISTER CHAIN SAW
DEAR MR. C.S.: You were within your rights to cut back any branches that protruded onto your property. However, it was spiteful and childish to dump the trimmings on your neighbors' property.
Apologize again -- and this time make a peace offering. As tempting as it might be to give them long-handled pruning shears, make it a gift certificate for a lovely dinner at a nice restaurant.