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
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.
On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, email@example.com (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.
On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (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
For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit
For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
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
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...
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
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.
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
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
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.
On 17 Nov 2003 08:25:22 -0800, email@example.com (Mike) opined:
I agree. there is really nothing you can do about the tree without killing it.
have leaves from my neighbors big trees in my yard, but so what. detour the
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
under the tree.
consider that all that raking of leaves you are doing is excellent for your
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