So your landscaping project is having all sorts of trouble. The zoning board, the neighbors, the contractors—everyone is giving you all kinds of hassle. Well, try telling your sob story to the Leu family, a retired couple living in northern Washington. Their construction of a concrete retaining wall to shore up their yard and prepare for a picket fence, set off an international dispute that reached the attention of the White House. Constructed on the American side of the 20-foot-wide buffer zone along the Canadian border, the wall caught the attention of the International Boundary Commission. Never mind that the offending wall encroached a mere 30 inches into the zone, the wall was ordered to be torn down. That act set off a political fight that has lasted eight months and cost one man his job. It’s got so much in-fighting, power grabs, and double-crosses that it reads like a novel. It also makes for a home improvement nightmare. According to Shirley-Ann, “It’s really depressing. All the other houses have nice lawns and flowers, and I have this pile of dirt with weeds growing in it.”

Landscaping project sets off international dispute