property line plantings--correct rules?

yborgalJuly 17, 2007

If my neighbor plants a hedge of ligustrum 6" from the property line between our home and his, is this the proper thing to do?

This hasn't happened yet, but it's new construction and I think this may be in the plans for the landscaping design.

Plants like this grow wide and we'll eventually end up with 1/2 the width of the plants on our lot. Even if we trim them back, unless we shear them flat they'll grow over to our side.

Technically, he'll be planting on his property, not ours, and I don't have a legal right to ask him not to do this but I'm not going to be happy about this.

Would you speak up and look like an intruding neighbor or just keep quiet and live with this?

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Read my post about the leyland cypress planted 3 ft from my property line and 20 ft. from front of the house.

I don't know what ligustrum are, but I don't think they grow 60 - 70 ft. tall like leylands. I am at a loss. We are seniors and just moved a little over a yr. ago into our dream house. We, also, cannot go through the stress of cutting back intruding branches, which will be growing on the driveway in no time.

Perhaps you can talk to your neighbors, they may be reasonable. if they are newcomers, too, they'll probably be more than eager to be neighborly. My case is hopeless. He is an 82 yr. old native of the area and resents newcomers. He did it on spite.
We are going to have to move. Very sad.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 5:49PM
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Rena, ligustrum plants can grow as wide as they are allowed to grow without trimming. They can also grow up to 14+ feet tall. Even with trimming they're at least 4-5' wide. And they are fast growing and need constant cutting back to restrain the growth.

We only have 11' side setbacks for each lot. Since we have beds and plantings right up against the house that extend about 5' out into the yard we have a little more space available than is needed for a riding mower to get in on the side yard.

They already have a 6' wide bed at the side of their home. As these plants grow they will be left with a narrow side path in their yard, but I don't care as long as my space isn't impacted

We had talked to them about sharing the cost of a fence because all of the other neighbors on the street have a 6' high black vinyl chain link fence covered with confederate jasmine and they said they pretty much don't care for fences. They prefer to achieve privacy through plantings.

They've already planted podocarpus trees on the other side of their home to hide the fence already there.

I know you are disappointed with the trees, but I'm of the impression those are very slow growing trees. Am I wrong? If they are slow growing it could take years before they block your view, and who knows, maybe an unforeseen act of nature will eliminate those trees in a crucial location to your view.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 6:45PM
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Ligustrum are privet (hedges), not trees.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 4:49AM
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Technically, they aren't trees but I have 4 of them in our front side yard that don't know they're not supposed to grow like trees. This is a 12' concrete wall behind the ligustrum tree so you can see how tall and wide it's gotten.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 8:50AM
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Dear Mona: Now I recognize them; actually they look like some of the tree/bushes my neighbor already has growing == they are already tall enough to hide my house. He planted the Leyland cypress right in front of these other trees (crazy, eh?). FYI, Leyland cypresses are the fastest growing trees out there--can grow upwards of 3 ft. a yr. to a height of 60-70 ft. and 12-15 ft. wide. They will create claustrophic wall of darkness 20 ft. from my front porch. Aren't neighbors wonderful? His house is 10 acres away from mine.
I hope you get your problem solved peacefully. But think, it could be worse. Some people are just not agreeable and it is so sad.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 9:32AM
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I would make sure that your neighbors plant them a decent amount away from your lot line. Talk to them before they plant if you can!!

I am currently planting shrubs along the borderline to block off my view of my neighbors yard. I am planting these tall narrow plants (cedar and arborvitae) 4 FEET away from our fence so they won't grow onto his side. If they do, I am willing to cut them back.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 10:55AM
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In some areas, ligustrums are considered invasive plants. Birds spread them and they can take over wooded areas. Also, they are a big allergy problem for many when they bloom.

My Mom planted ligustrum along the south side of our house - in a few years they grew to over 30 feet tall and damaged the eaves of the house. They spread to cover nearly a half acre of land and we are still trying to root out volunteers plants in our tree lines.

There are some varieties of ligustrum/privet that are not as invasive, so maybe try to discuss with your neighbor which varieties he will be planting. You may want to talk to your local county extension service about what varieties are NOT invasive in your region and ask your neighbor to consider those. Or suggest other kinds of hedge plants that are less aggressive. He probably does not want to plant something that can take over his yard any more than you would want it to overpower yours.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ligustrum japonicum

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 2:44PM
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Why do you automatically need, or want, to trim any limbs that grow out over the property line?

You have a legal *right* to trim any overhanging limbs, but why would you need to? Unless they are causing a real problem, such as damaging your siding or your gutters (or crowding your driveway), just leave them alone. The picture you posted of your own tress looks great. Lots of shade and a very nice landscaping job.

If we forced our neighbors to set every tree and shrub back a certain distance from the property line, we'd end up with neighborhoods with "dead zones" along every property line, with no plants or trees at all in them.

A little common sense is called for. The overhanging limbs don't constitute encroachment, IMHO. Trim them back if you must, but I say just enjoy the greenery until (and if) they become a real nuisance. Imagine the trees you posted with 1/3 or even 1/2 lopped off by trimmers. Looks odd, no? I think a healty tree would be much more pleasant to look at.

Btw, I'd *love* to have that magnificent older tree with the spanish moss overhanging my property! We don't get those here in the foothills of NC. I certainly wouldn't automatically trim overhanging limbs on *that* tree, unless they posed a danger to my house. No one would trim that great of a tree just because the limbs grow over the property line. Can't the same consideration be given to smaller tress?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 11:17AM
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chapnc, I have no problem with limbs overhanging our property. Our neighbor's old oaks hang over our wall and several of our old oaks have branches that hang over on their side as well. Our concern was of a navigational space issue.

We need at least 5' clearance in order for a riding lawn mower to have access to our back yard.
Because the neighbor is also our niece we've decided not to say anything and just trim as needed. I think we might be installing an iron fence along the side in the future and just keep the bushes trimmed back at that line.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 11:36AM
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Yes, if it blocks easy access to part of your yard, either for you or your lawn mower, then you should trim as the tree grows.

If you trim it correclty, you should be able to end up where the limbs are trimmed up to 7 or 8 feet or so to give you room to walk under then, and then leave the rest to form a shady canopy.

The best thing to do is to try to avoid that completely chopped off look you'll end up with if you cut *every* branch at the property line. Just trim the ones that are actually getting in your way.

Here in NC, the utility companies have not only the right, but the responsibility, to trim trees that interfere with the power lines. All well and good. But we end up with tress where they come along and shear off one half of the tree and leave the other half that grows away from the lines. Half a tree looks really odd, and really ugly. Keep the limbs in check but try to avoid that chopped-off look. If you occassionaly "prune" the tree, rather than "hacking" it, I think your neice will be happy with the way the tree looks.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 2:08PM
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