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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Leave Your Water Bottle at Home

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I need your advice on how to approach my elderly neighbor. She sent her son over into our backyard to trim down two of our bushes. She did not ask permission to do this, and the bushes were clearly on our property, because her son had to go around her fence to get to them.

This bothers me because I had a stranger in my backyard, and now there is a huge mess. What is the most polite way to tell her this was unacceptable, and that in the future, she needs to ask my partner or me to trim our own bushes? I would have happily obliged, had she just asked!

GENTLE READER: “Your son may not have realized, but he was cutting the bushes on our property. We cleaned up the mess, but in the future, please talk to us before compromising our hedges without consent.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)