Trees planted near property lines can sometimes overhang onto a neighboring residence, leading to questions about who has the right to trim them. Here are a few basic rules about such ambiguities, but you should always check with local governing bodies to make sure they apply to your area.
How to Determine Property Lines
While trees might appear to overhang your property, you should be certain before you move forward with any action. To find exact boundaries, look to the property survey you should have received when you purchased the home. This information will show you if part or all of a tree encroaches onto your land.
Settling Boundary Disputes
In certain cases, it may be difficult to tell if a tree sits on your or a neighbor’s property. When this happens, consider having the area re-surveyed to help settle any questions. In the unlikely case, a tree rests in the middle of a boundary, it will be the mutual responsibility of both homeowners to care for and maintain it. You will each be responsible for any action that damages the tree, including digging up roots or applying chemicals that harm it. In addition, both parties would have to agree for the tree to be removed.
In most cases, even if the trunk sits on the neighboring ground, any branches that overhang your property fall within your jurisdiction. This means you can and should trim any branches (and incur any associated costs) up to your property line, taking care not to damage the remaining parts of the tree. As far as leaves or debris that fall from a neighbor’s tree onto your property, you are also responsible for the cleanup.
Note: Any action you take to remove branches should be done with care, as you could be held liable for any residual harm to the tree, and typical tree replacement can cost between $500 and $3000 depending on its size and type.
In situations where a tree affects multiple properties, it helps to establish ownership and responsibility early on. Consider using surveys to get exact boundaries and make sure all parties understand that any portion of the tree resting on or overhanging their property is their responsibility. When everyone understands the expectations, disputes can be avoided and damaging incidents can be handled in a conscientious, straightforward way.
To learn more about how routine tree maintenance can help keep your trees happy and healthy, call Gordon Pro Tree Service at 770-282-1616.