Huge oak tree in neighbour's garden

My neighbour has a huge oak tree literally on my boundary fence. It's so massive that it takes all light from the middle section of my garden. The trees on my side (an apple and rowan tree) are bending, trying to look for light. My neighbour has let us cut the branches overhanging our property before. I have asked if we can take it down but she says she wants to keep it for 'shade' on her side. As a compromise, we agreed we could take the height down to the levels of the trees next to it, and leave the branches on her side as they are. I've consulted a tree surgeon who says he can make a good job of trying to make a compromise (without, in his words, "it looking like a helicopter has crashed into it"). My neighbour is now starting to get difficult and saying she "doesn't want a lot taking off" and that she doesn't want it "lop sided". When we had the overhanging branches taken off a couple of years back (with her blessing), she never said a word. Now she's saying he "cut off half the tree and didn't shape it". But, it didn't change the aspect on her side at all, just stopped the branches completely overshadowing our side. It it right that we have absolutely no right to take some of this tree down when it takes our light so badly? I'd never want to make it look ugly or odd, or to upset my neighbour. But frankly, I can't see how we can find a compromise if she won't allow us to cut the branches that overhang our property. It feels grossly unfair. This tree is about 30 feet high...
--
Lisa T


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My understanding is anything that comes over into your property is fair game for you to do with what you want. (Check with you City/County government to make certain.) I had a neighbors' tree hanging over my driveway and had a couple of their dead branches cut before they fell on someone or a car in the driveway. As a courtesy, I did tell them before hand. They actually seemed glad it was being done... They ended up cutting down the tree the following year since it was dying.
The power company here comes by and butchers trees so they are not hanging over power lines. They literally cut a big V in some, and there are some where half the tree is just gone. Looks terrible. They claim that you can't shape a tree, it is actually unhealthy for it and have to cut the way they do. They give no notice to property owners, just show up one day and hack off limbs and then leave.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/5/2013 6:11 PM, Gus wrote:

UK address. Don't know what their rules are. Thirty feet is not a huge tree but oaks can get huge and if lots are small her neighbor could be the one in trouble years from now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/5/13 3:11 PM, Gus wrote:

In some areas, oaks are protected by law. A special permit is required even to trim them. In other areas, this is not so. If a permit is required and you don't have one, the fine can be as great as the value of the affected tree, which can be quite substantial.
However, you should also check to see if sudden oak death (SOD, caused by the water mold Phytophthora ramorum) is a problem in your immediate area. It is now known not only on the Pacific coast of the U.S. but also in the U.K. If SOD is a problem in your area, you might even be able to get an order to remove the tree. Fortunately for me, SOD does not yet seem to be a problem either in my area or with valley white oaks (Quercus lobata).
As to utilities trimming trees, I have see a large number of palms topped by the utility companies in my area; cutting off the top of a palm kills it. The trunks remain. As they dry, they can become horrific torches during even a minor wildfire (common in this arid area) and destroy all overhead wiring. I just cannot understand why the utilities do not cut the palms at ground level to avoid future problems.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lisa T wrote:

This is a legal question whose answer will depend on the jurisdiction that you are in. It is not sensible to ask an international garden group such a thing as we are probably not in your area and probably not lawyers either.
D
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 6 Aug 2013 09:26:28 +1000, "David Hare-Scott"

Then it is on the neighbor's property line as well... here in the US a tree on the property line is a no brainer, the portion on your side gets removed, in fact in most US municipalities if one land owner wants it gone the entire tree goes... most zoning laws specify a set back for large trees, may be that no large trees can be planted closer than 15' from the property line.

That's not a very large oak tree, but it's not a small tree either.

I concur, get legal advice... and take pictures.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/5/2013 1:22 PM, Lisa T wrote:

I've been in this situation before, including having the passive-aggressive neighbor who is fully aware that the tree is a nuisance to you - but instead of candidly discussing the problem, she prevaricates, promises, and complains.
I'll tell you what I finally resorted to (and this was after a third of the tree crashed down onto my parked car during a storm, leaving me responsible for the removal and cleanup, since it fell onto my property):
I acquired a bottle of brushkiller (failing that, the most highly-concentrated formulation of Roundup could be used). In the middle of the night, I quietly went to the tree and dug away some of the soil to expose a spot on one of the larger roots. I scraped off a small patch of the root's surface with the knife, applied a goodly spoonful of the brushkiller to the exposed area. I then patted the dirt back over the spot and went back to bed.
Within a week, the tree began to show some browning of a branch or two. I said nothing, but repeated the process in a couple of weeks, this time finding another root to treat, as well as hitting the original root with another dose. By the time the damage from the second application showed up, the neighbor noticed the tree was in distress and had it removed. Good thing; I was prepared to continue until the tree died.
You can also kill a tree by girdling it - removing a collar of bark from the base of the tree - but that is much easier to detect than a few scraped patches on some roots.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Moe DeLoughan wrote:

What a wimp. You shoulda man'dup and firebombed it. That'd teach'um that pissive aggressive stuff.
D
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes, vandalism or destruction of property means hiring an attorney, court costs and, especially with so much being online these days, anything on your record will have far-reaching and long lasting impacts on a person's life.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 05/08/2013 19:22, Lisa T wrote:

You really need to check your local council website. Search for "Tree Preservation Order" on it (sometimes called "Tree Protection order"). Be very careful - there are severe financial penalties for damaging trees which are subject to a TPO. This is from my local council's FAQs:
"I am having problems with a tree in my neighbour's garden blocking light. What can I do? Alleged blocking of light to the house or garden involves complex legal issues and there is no legal right to light. The council will not generally prune healthy trees to allow greater access for light. Technically, your neighbour only has a duty to ensure their trees are safe. There is currently no height restriction on trees and hedges. If you have concerns regarding a hedge or tree, ask your neighbour how they intend to maintain it. You may be able to cut the overhanging branches back to the boundary. However, before either you or your neighbour undertakes works to any trees, it is important to check the trees are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order or located within a Conservation Area."
Note the final sentence. The previous FAQ ("My neighbour's trees encroach over my boundary. Can I cut them back?") has the following final sentence " If a tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order, or because it is located within a Conservation Area, the Common Law right is removed and you will need to seek formal permission from the Council before undertaking work to living parts of the tree."
--

Jeff

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 5 Aug 2013 20:22:34 +0200, Lisa T

Laws are laws and neighbors are neighbors. Of course find out your legal standing, then negotiate. Maybe your arborist could do some thinning over a period of several years.
Chances are the roots of the tree will be a worse problem that the branches. In a city setting trees can be quite valuable, as the poster who claims to have killed one must have found out. It probably enhances the value of your property as well. Gardening on a small plot is a challenge, and this tree is just one more added variable to be overcome. Was the oak was there before the apple and rowan?
One of the oaks on my place is truly massive so they can get quite big.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If the trimmer took checks from both of you, she can deal with him about any shaping on her side. You can cut off any limbs on your side without involving her.
If you paid the trimmer and then she paid you, then both you and the trimmer will have to work with her.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
PS -- Be sure that when you cut the limbs that it doesn't kill the tree.
When I have to prune a tree that is important to keep, I always make up a disinfecting solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorox in a gallon of water, wipe it around where I'm going to cut and wipe the saw blade. Then after cutting, paint the open wound with a pruning seal. Cheap, easy and helps to ensure the tree survives. I do this even with small cuts if the tree is important to keep.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've depended for years. However, my experience (mostly with Florida's native hardwoods) has been that use of a good pruning paint seems -- anecdotally, mind you -- to prevent fungus growth and to speed callus formation, particularly on larger wounds. For the past thirty-or-so years, I've abandoned the use of specialty products, which AFAIK no longer contain creosote, in favor of the spray-on product sold as "undercoating" by automotive parts stores.
--
Derald
USDA 9b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Undercoating is the worst... a thick coat of tarry goop that won't disolve with water is far worse... the whole concept of coating tree wounds is to prevent insect entry during healing... an occasional spritz with soapy solution works well; 1 oz Murphy's Oil Soap to 1 qt H2O. Also a poultice of water and Octagon brown soap applied to tree wounds goes a long way towards keeping the creepy crawlies out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

anything about "a thick coat of tarry goop"? The "whole point" to coating a wound is to prevent water intrusion and the resulting invasion of fungii which quickly destroys hardwoods, especially oaks, from the inside outward. Blocking insects is a fringe benefit. Hardwood trees do not seal wounds by "bleeding" thick tarry sap as do true pines.
--
Derald
USDA 9b
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

True that.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.