Neighbor Throwing Branches Into Your Yard? (Do This Now)
Do you somehow keep ending up with a yard full of branches, even though you don’t have any trees? If your answer is yes, then you’re likely the victim of an oblivious or inconsiderate neighbor. But, if the branches are from your tree, that’s a different story.
It is generally legal to throw your neighbor’s tree branches back into their yard because it is their property. However, in some areas, it is illegal and considered a property violation to throw any type of waste into your neighbor’s yard. Most municipalities allow homeowners to throw branches back and trim their neighbor’s tree if part of it hangs over their fence.
Your neighbor most likely wants to keep his yard nice, which is great. But, he shouldn’t do so at the expense of your own yard’s appearance. So, what should you do if branches keep piling up in your yard?
Are the Branches from Your Tree?
First, you need to identify the source of the branches. In other words, are they from your own tree? If your tree is dropping limbs into your neighbor’s yard, technically, your neighbor has every right to toss them back.
In this situation, your neighbor is essentially simply returning your property to you. Of course, it can seem a little off-putting and immature. However, the reality is it’s your tree, so it’s technically your responsibility.
If the branches in your neighbor’s yard are from your tree, there are a few different options available to you. No matter what you decide to do in this scenario, it’s always best to keep things pleasant.
Talk To Your Neighbor
Talking to your neighbor before you do anything else is always a good idea. If anything, it ensures that you and your neighbor are both aware of the situation. Have a conversation with your neighbor about the branches and see if you can agree on a solution.
Do You Need To Remove the Tree?
If your tree is landing a lot of branches in your neighbor’s yard, one primary consideration is the tree’s health.
If the tree is dead or dying, then it is in danger of falling and causing considerable damage. In this case, your neighbor has every right to be concerned and frustrated. The right thing to do in this situation is to remove the tree.
Call a professional arborist or tree removal company to assess the tree. The cost of a consultation is usually about $50 to $100 but typically includes several trees.
If the tree has to come down, it’s your responsibility to pay for the process. Depending on the tree’s location, type, and size, the cost can be between $600 and $1,200.
Keep in mind, if your tree is a hazard, removing it benefits both you and your neighbor. Likewise, if it’s your neighbor’s tree is unhealthy, you can ask him to remove it. In many states, if you’re aware your tree presents a potential danger, you can be liable if it causes damage.
Trim Your Tree
If your tree is healthy, it might just need a trim. When discussing the tree with your neighbor, decide if this is an agreeable solution. Offer to trim the portions of your tree that are hanging into your neighbor’s yard. In most places, your neighbor has every right to do this himself. But it’s a nice gesture for you to offer.
You can either cut the limbs yourself or pay for someone to do it. You might be surprised, and your neighbor offers to do it himself. The important thing is that both of you discuss the situation as adults and come to an agreement.
Are the Branches from Your Neighbor’s Tree?
Suppose the branches in your yard come from your neighbor’s tree? If so, this is a whole new ballgame. Plus, it’s pretty rude and lazy. Still, before you make waves, give your neighbor the benefit of the doubt.
Talk To Your Neighbor
Once again, it’s always best to start things off with a friendly chat. Express to your neighbor that you would prefer if he doesn’t toss branches and other debris into your yard. Ask him if there is anything you can do to help.
Of course, the odds are good that your neighbor realizes 100% that what he’s doing is not very neighborly. If he’s tossing branches into your yard, it can be easy to assume he just doesn’t care.
However, starting with a conversation enables you to let your neighbor know how you feel. If you need to move on to more drastic measures, at least you tried to talk with him first.
Toss the Branches Back
If the branches in your yard are from your neighbor’s tree, you can theoretically toss them back into his yard. In this situation, you just need to ask yourself if this is the type of person you want to be.
Trim Back Parts of the Tree
Instead, you can trim back the pieces of your neighbor’s tree hanging over your property line. Just make sure that you don’t encroach onto his property. Plus, you should check the local laws to make sure you have the right to do so.
You can give your neighbor a heads up that you plan to trim these pieces of the tree. But, if the law says yes, this is a courtesy; you don’t need his permission. However, if your pruning escapade damages the tree in some way, you could be held liable.
Begrudgingly Pick Up the Branches to Keep the Peace
If you don’t feel like tree-trimming, and your neighbor keeps tossing branches, you can always pick them up yourself. Sometimes, it’s best just to keep the peace.
Again, if it becomes a huge issue, your best bet is to trim the tree for your own sanity’s sake. If you don’t want to do the work, pay someone to do it for you. Plan to spend about $150 to $800, depending on the size and height of the tree.
You can always check in with your neighbor first. If he also has a bunch of branches strewn about his yard, he might be willing to split the cost. This deal relies heavily on what kind of relationship you have with your neighbor.
Contact Your Homeowners Association (If You Have One)
If you belong to a homeowners association, you can approach them for assistance. If, after speaking with your neighbor, nothing changes, your HOA can step in and force the necessary actions.
What About Leaves?
If your neighbor’s tree is blowing leaves around your yard, unfortunately, all you can do is grab your rake. Leaves are a natural product of trees that can blow where they please. Therefore, they are not considered a nuisance and it’s up to you to remove them from your yard.
Of course, if you have a good relationship with your neighbor, they might lend a hand. It all depends on your unique situation.
What if fruit from my neighbor’s fruit tree falls into my yard? Does it become my property?
While you can’t pick fruit from your neighbor’s tree, if it falls off the tree, that’s different. If fruit falls from your neighbor’s tree and lands in your yard, you can keep it.If you have branches all over your yard, talk with your neighbor first. Hopefully, you can work it out together instead of branching out to more drastic solutions!
If most of a large tree hangs over into my yard but the trunk is in my neighbor’s yard, who owns the tree?
Since the trunk is located on your neighbor’s property, it belongs to them. When you have a tree trunk that is shared by property lines of two or more people, this is known as a “boundary tree.”When you have a “boundary tree,” the tree is owned by all property owners and they each share the responsibility. Therefore, it is illegal to remove the tree without the approval of all property owners.
What should I do if my neighbor’s tree looks like it’s going to fall on my house?
Property owners are solely responsible for maintaining the trees on their property. The first thing you should do is speak with your neighbor about the tree. In this instance, they are legally required to do two things: have an inspection done and take measures to ensure that the tree is safe.If your neighbor neglects to remove the potentially dangerous tree and it does cause damage to your home, the neighbor could be held liable. On the other hand, if your neighbor simply refuses to handle the tree issue, it may constitute a nuisance, meaning it interferes with the use and enjoyment of your property.In this case, you can file a nuisance claim, and if the court rules in favor, they may order the tree to be removed.
Can I trim my neighbor’s tree branches that hang over into my yard?
Legally, you do have the right to trim branches and limbs that extend past your property line. However, you are only allowed to perform tree cutting and tree trimming on your own property. Therefore, you can’t go over to your neighbor’s yard and start hacking away at their tree.
Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.
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