Usually, talking to a neighbor about the fact that his tree is
damaging or threatening your property is a futile effort. Most
neighbors are inconsiderate morons who don't give a damn if
their tree, pets or kids are making your life miserable. Generally,
talking with them only draws attention to you and you then
become the first suspect when something happens to the tree.
Trust me, I spent the first couple of decades as a homeowner
attempting to make very rare and very tactful request to neighbors.
It usually just doesn't work. I should have learned more quickly
that I'm not going to get any compromise from morons who put
a compost pile at the property line 8 feet from my deck, who
let their dog bark for 9 hours a day & 5 days per week, or who let
their pets run free every day.
I got my wakeup call about 20 years ago when a next-door neighbor
sprayed a general herbicide on parts of his lawn and the chemical
leeched over to my side of the property and killed a lot of grass,
my organic vegetable garden, well established grape vines and
my raspberry plants. His response? "Hey, I didn't spray anything
on your side of the property. What happens underground isn't my
Personally, I'd appreciate any knowledge-based legal advise on
solving problems such as yours. I have removed my large trees
to alleviate a number of problems (clogged gutters, clogged drain
tile, pressure on basement walls, poor lawn due to water competition,
etc.) But I am still stuck with neighbors trees presenting the same
problems for me. Morons grow big trees very close to the property
line, ignoring the impact upon folks such as you and me.
Friendly talks with my neighbors are futile - they'll "permit" light pruning
of limbs on my side of the property (at my expense, of course). In
general, they will "permit" pruning of about 10% of the limbs and none
of the roots on my property. All I get from my neighbors is large limbs
falling on my property and on my roofs during every heavy storm, in
addition to the clogged drains, poor grass, heaved concrete, etc.
Rent a trencher. Dig a trench around the perimeter of your property
to cut every root entering your property. Drill 1/2" holes in the largest
root stubs and fill with Ortho Roundup. Repeat once a week for 4 weeks.
Copper salts are very harmful to living plants, but Roundup is much,
much better. Be certain to buy the largest container of Roundup with
the highest concentration of the active ingredient. I believe that this
is 41% concentration and it costs about $40 for a quart or so of the
product. Apply at full strength. Be patient.
You can also drill large holes in the roots, drive copper pipes into
the holes and fill the pipes with copper salts. Still, Roundup is more
Of course, don't do this if it is illegal in your community. :)
Remember, once you have a friendly & futile talk with your neighbors,
you can no longer be covert. They will now suspect you if anything
happens to their precious trees (or pets, etc.).