Tree problems

Hello,
I will probably get flammed for this but I am looking for solutions or answers or alternatives.
I live in a twin house, my attached neighbor planted a tree approx 20 years ago, when her son was born. The tree was planted on the grassy area infront of the sidewalk approximately 1 foot from my property. Over the years the tree has grown and is now overhanging my property. She never rakes or takes care of her leaves, but that is not the real issue. Over the last couple years my sidewalk has been raised and has broken as a result of the roots of this tree. About a month ago, I was out raking (her leaves) and noticed that there is a huge root that has now pertruded through the grass in front of my sidewalk. I currently have 4 standard blocks of concrete ruined (2 of which I already replaced several years ago before the problem really surfaced).
The main truck and several large roots of the tree has extended itself to my propery as well as hers. She planted it, but it is currently on my property as well as hers.
I don't necessarily want to kill it, but there is definately a significant amount of damage being caused by this. Any ideas on what I can do? Talking to her has done no good.
Thanks Mike
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On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Mike) wrote:

No flames here. the laws are pretty clear on this, the plant has moved over onto YOUR PROPERTY and is subject to surgery on your side of the fence. :"Other people's trees" lean over and may topple on your structures, drop either fruit or trashy stuff on your property, may produce unwanted shade, or get into your septic system. your property lines extend upward, invisibly, for a long long way. I know you do not want to kill the tree, however it is possible that it has inserted enough of its life support system onto your land, and will die if you remove the intruding parts. this is your decision, but the law will back you on this one.
hermine
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hermine stover wrote:

In some communities this may be true but often doing anything that harms/kills the tree even if it is on your side of the property line is a no-no.
--
Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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You can cut any branches and roots that are on your property. Make sure the cutting does not cross the property plane to hers. The downside is that the tree may not look so good.
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I believe you will find that any branches or roots removed still remain the neighbours property and should be returned. Best Wishes

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On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Mike) wrote:

The variety of response will reveal teh true answer: laws vary and your response should be guided by a bit of research on local codes. In Austin, TX, there is a law that any tree with a trunk at least 19" DBH (diameter 4 feet above grade) is protected, and if you cause harm that leads to the tree's death you are responsible just as if you took it down to the ground yourself.
That said, generally the previous responses are right. If it crosses the property line, most courts have ruled it's yours to do as you wish. But besides the above exception, I have heard of situations where this would be considered a shared tre, so neither party could take unilateral action.
The big problem you're likely to run into is that there may be no laws addressing this directly--often the case. Which leaves you with legal precedents and the judgment of whoever happens to be in charge the day you appear in court (assuming it comes to the worst). You can read more in Vincent Merullo's book, something like "Arboriculture and the Law." Or you can skip a step and go right to a local property-rights atty. and see where things stand locally.
Worth noting: municipal studies consistently find just as much sidewalk damage where no trees are present as where they are. Your complaint is with the sidewalk installer as much as the neighbor's tree.
Keith For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit http://www.isa-arbor.com/home.asp . For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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If I understand your post correctly, the tree is planted in the grassy area between the sidewalk and street? aka parking strips or hell strips. If so, it may be very likely that tree problems in this area are under the control of some city agency, rather than simply the respective propery owners themselves. In Seattle, while the strips are under the maintenance of the property owner, they are under easement to the city and plantings are controlled to a certain extent by them. Certainly the liability to the city for the dangers inherent to upheaving sidewalks would cause their intervention. Typically, if a tree remains a serious hazard, either because of paving disruption or low hanging or brittle branches, they will require pruning, if not outright removal. Worth pursuing, fwiw.
pam - gardengal

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My next door neighbor (a rental home) had a lot of Poplar trees along our property line that damaged my patio and were intruding on our pool at the time. These hummers came under the cinder block wall and footer. When I spoke with the renter, he spoke with the owner who paid the renter to dig a 3' deep trench close to the property line and poured in several bags of rock salt. That solved the problem of the poplars. Three years later a new renter was planting all manner of flowers etc where the trench was, no problems. In fact now 9 years later, everything seems to grow well there. I'd have expected long term soil comtamination, nope, flowers and veggies love it.
Now if I could just kill off the Chinese Elms the 'backyard' neighbor has that sprout up all over my garden, lawn and every damned place else, also under a wall and footer... Saddly these people are not as civil as the side yard renter was...
Mike wrote:

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hm... she planted it to commemorate the birth of her son? Maybe you need to take care of the son. Chances are she'll bury the tree with him ;o)
Seriously, though, I'd like to re-iterate the point another has made in that municipal codes will vary from place to place. What I can add is that the local newspaper is often a good place to start your research. Not necessarily the print version, but I phoned their offices up for information on our residential conflict ... they pointed me to all the right resources.
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I won't flame you, but I am curious why you wouldn't want this tree there. I must be the odd egg because when growing up in Brooklyn, part of the charm of riding our bikes on the sidewalk were the parts which were raised up by tree roots.
You may be able to make a claim on your homeowners insurance. You can ask her to remove the tree. You can remove what lives on your side, but wouldn't that look much worse?
I say live with it and where it's up in the lawn, remove the turf and put some nice mulch on top of the roots. Don't cover them with soil or too much mulch or you will inhibit gas exchange which the roots need when they approach the surface.
If you dislike your neighbor, work on letting that go. If you like the neighbor, approach it in a way which is non-combative and see what the two of you can come up with.
Last week my neighbor from hell decided he was going to put in a metal divider between his and our property out front. He put the metal edging material down on the lawn and as soon as I saw that I went out and dug out all my sod and made it easier for him to come in and lay his metal edge in. He said I cut two inches off his property line and pointed to the pin in the street. I asked him if he was so petty as to concern himself with a few inches. I thought I did all the grunt work for him as a nice gesture and he threw it in my face. We agreed, finally, that neither of us were moving anywhere and what's the diff of a few inches. He put the edge in and now I don't have to mow at all on that side.
There are many ways to achieve harmony. And I'm not flaming you, but pointing out that the beauty and value of the tree far outweighs the sidewalk or lawn it is invading and I'm suggesting you find ways around it. You will feel much better and you won't have that resentment looming.
Just a gentle suggestion.
Victoria
On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Mike) opined:

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I agree. there is really nothing you can do about the tree without killing it. I have leaves from my neighbors big trees in my yard, but so what. detour the sidewalk around the roots, in fact, remove the sidewalk and put down crushed stone or something else. in fact why not get together and come up with a landscaping plan for under the tree. consider that all that raking of leaves you are doing is excellent for your health. Ingrid

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