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Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Posted by G_Karen (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 4, 11 at 10:28

I want to put up a new privacy fence. My very hateful, somewhat crazy, neighbor has a rotted, falling-down fence running the length of our back yards. Her 'garbage trees', poison ivy, and scrub brush grow through and over her fence and into my yard. It has gotten so embarrassing that I won't have guests in my yard. Ms Neighbor refuses to remove her fence row garbage trees. Because they grow through the way they do, it will make putting my new fence up impossible. The largest tree has grown 2' into my property (I offered to cut it down when it was small, but she wouldn't let me). The rest are things like small elms, wild honeysuckle trees (that don't even bloom), and mulberries. Since she refuses to remove them, I'll have to pay to have them cut back (legal for me to do, as I understand it)...which will eat up my fence budget. Any suggestions from others who have lived next to a person like this? I've NEVER had to live this way in my entire life!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Check your state's list of noxious weeds and bushes. If she is growing any of those, you can get your county weed control involved to at least force her to get rid of anything on the list. Other than that, you will just have to trim things back to your property line yourself. Unless there is immediate danger of property damage or bodily harm (and sometimes not even in those cases) you can't force your neighbor to do anything. The trees and bushes are, for the most part, on her property and if she likes them it is her right to have them - 2' onto your property is, frankly, not very much and relatively easy to deal with. Trim it back and put up your fence.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Also, research what local laws say about fence damage from those kinds of problems. You may be able to force her to remove the offending plants regardless of type if they damage your fence.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

One can sue for this kind of thing, and people do - but that would eliminate your fence budget :-) I think the lawsuits are generally over nuisance, damage, or hazards. Other than that, yes, you can cut branches and I think also roots at the property line. although you can't deliberately kill the trees. If you do that, she can sue you!

Certainly a pruning saw or lopper is probably cheaper than hiring someone, as you likely will have to do this again.

I'm not sure you need to be embarrassed about her trees, as they don't reflect on you by any stretch of the imagination. If you let it poison your life to the extent of not having anyone over or using your yard, you may be giving her more power than this merits.

KarinL


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

sounds like you need to prune what over on your side.

why should the neighbor remove her plants that are on her side of the property line? her property, her plants.

sounds like you're asking for her to change her property to suit your needs. why can't you prune to the property line and put up a fence on your side?

also, I don't know what kind of fence you're putting up, but there are some of us who consider a white vinyl slab of a fence more of an eyesore than some overgrown vegitation.

you describe her as an evil person, and she may be, but there is nothing wrong with her wanting to have vegitation close to the property line.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Other than cutting down what spreads to your property, I don't really get the problem. Whether intentionally or not, and whether you like it or not, she's providing habitat for nature's critters and keeping diversity in the plant world, and that's a good thing! Most people replace hedgerows with sterile, ugly fences, and boring foundation-type plantings.

Just giving you another perspective to think about :-)


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Round-Up in a garden sprayer does wonders at 3 a.m.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

bwood74 - Are you actually recommending the OP destroy another person's property? Seriously? Commit felony often, or just recommend it to others?


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

if those elms are healthy? I'd be potting them up and looking for an arborist who could grow them to transplant size...

but it sounds like what you really want is an aggressive shovel pruning at the fence line, and a root barrier, so you can keep their yard in their yard...maybe with a shorter, more solid fence on your side of that barrier, with screening shrubs of your own...you get to cut down on the time you spend maintaining the property line, and contribute to the biodiversity at the same time : )


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

chinacat - The OP CANNOT go onto another person's property and dig up their trees! Why would you suggest such a thing?


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

I'm also a little concerned about the "aggressive shovel pruning" idea. This is taking it a bit far, and could kill trees growing on the neighbour's side. Only someone with a real hate on for their neighbour and nature would do that.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

>>neighbor has a rotted, falling-down fence running the length of our back yards.<<

When I was looking into putting up a fence, I searched online for local laws about fencing. Local laws vary, obviously, from place to place BUT some things are fairly common.

I'm in CT. Don't know where u r but this link talks about:
1. fences that are eyesores and/or dangerous due to their condition;
2. boundary lines and fences being "co-owned" if on the boundary;
3. penalties for not maintaining a fence etc.

I'm sorry that so many of the above posters aren't sympathetic to your plight. I assume they're all fortunate enough NOT to live next to a "neighbor from hell." But I've been there and without doing ANYTHING illegal, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are city departments and laws to help you out. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fences FAQ New Haven, CT


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

"bwood74 - Are you actually recommending the OP destroy another person's property? Seriously? Commit felony often, or just recommend it to others?"

If I had neighbor like this, I'd dig an irrigation ditch along that side of MY fence and fill with Round-UP so I could at least prevent their trash scrub from invading MY yard.

I hope the OP doesn't end up having to spend an arm and a leg stopping a problem their neighbor created.

OP, is your property zoned for goats?!


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

regarding this comment... "If I had neighbor like this, I'd dig an irrigation ditch along that side of MY fence and fill with Round-UP so I could at least prevent their trash scrub from invading MY yard." ... fortunately, you have no concept of how Roundup works. And "trash scrub" is in the eye of the beholder, so OP should leave it be (what isn't on his own property) and should just plant something that he finds more pleasing on his side. I can't believe how up-tight some people get about things that aren't theirs.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

You may not want to hear this but embrace the moment! Go to library and ask to for a book called "The Living Fence "It will tell you what to plant to block the view of a structure (tall full plant). What to plant where the view is open, say a stretch of lawn. I did this with my neighbor with great success. When he moved the new neighbor wanted to cut everything down. He needed a land surveyor. When the land surveyor arrived he said, he couldn�t get an accurate read with all the growth. Unless we both agreed to cut it all down, the new guy is stuck. I sent a copy to the local Police and building inspector and cc him just to cover my butt
Good Luck


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Have you considered putting up a block wall? Pricy but it would be on your property as it's not a good idea to put any fence dead on to the property line. When it's set in on your property, if the brush is invasive, a complaint to the abatement enforcement code officer in your area will give the neighbors a certain time frame to keep it cut back as it's crossing the line onto your property.


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just realized.....

how old this thread is. The op is probably in the pokey for spraying the neighbor down with roundup!


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

I feel your pain. I also have a nasty neighbor that you couldn't imagine in your worst nightmare.

They planted a row of trees along our garage. Literally so that they grow, as saplings, ABUTTING our overhang. This is less than 2 feet from the face of this side of my garage. AN ENTIRE ROW which will soon prevent my entire access to that side of my garage. They strike my overhang repeatedly. The neighbors refused to trim them back, and then when I did, which is my right, they ran to the city and complained, which only came back to bite them in the you know what in the end.

When the trees began growing INTO my eaves, we consulted with an attorney. Our local law allows homeowner to trim anything back UP TO the property line. So, take a hedge trimmer, go straight up along the property line. Of course, this does nothing for me when the wind blows these trees, repeatedly, so that they strike the side of my garage. That's another story.

My best advice - consult with an attorney. Plenty out there willing to provide free advice on the phone in a 15 minute conversation.

Contact city hall. Anonymously, of course, but start asking questions to get an idea of what your rights are in terms of local ordinances. Research local ordinances about trees, property boundaries, tree trimming, invasive or forbidden plants, etc. Don't notify the city of any violations if you find any - notify your neighbor first as this is the neighborly thing to do. Give her the opportunity to correct any violations before escalating anything. If that doesn't work, get the city involved as needed.

Write the neighbor letters. Document all of this, beginning from the time you asked her to trim them, when she told you that you could not, etc. This is the MOST MOST MOST important - documentation goes a LONG way in court, IF it were to go there. Hopefully, it does not.

You are responsible if you damage her trees, so consult with an arborist. Ask the proper way and time to trim them, to avoid any potential damage. Document this as well - due diligence on your part will be looked upon favorably by the city and by the courts.

Write your neighbor letters, address your concerns about the trees, growth, etc. and the negative ways it impacts your property. Be nice, to the point, and courteous. Do not make any threats - approach her in the fashion that you want to resolve this. Ask her to respond in writing.
You can send these letters with a delivery confirmation. This will let her know that you are serious, but keeping it "friendly" will keep the relationship at a level plane.

Notify her, in writing, every time you plan to cut those trees - but ask her to do it first. "your trees have grown over the property boundary by XXX, please trim them back by such and such date. If you are unable to do so, please contact me by XXX. If I do not hear from you by XXX date, I will trim them back myself. Document how much time you spend trimming and maintaining her plants that encroach on your property.

If you can, hire an arborist to trim them for you. Keep ALL the bills. After a year (check the statute of limitations), take her to small claims, if necessary and if you have no other alternative or resolution, and it will be extremely reasonable for you to ask the courts for reimbursement for those fees. The fact that she is refusing your right to trim them, and the fact that she is doing nothing to prevent them from encroaching on YOUR property, especially after you've notified her, repeatedly, in writing, about your valid concerns, will not, in my opinion, look favorably upon her in the court of law. This is exactly what our attorney recommended to us.

Obviously, we all don't want to spend money on attorneys and lawsuits, I'm only suggesting that as a last resort for very unreasonable, uncooperative, and unneighborly situations. I have one of those, unfortunately.

Do not ever do anything to damage your neighbors property, not funny and terrible advice. :)

Good luck. Some people just aren't meant to be a neighbor, and have no consideration for others. Makes you wonder where it is that these people come from.

Most of all, this woman sounds unreasonable. For that reason, I would always try to have a witness there when you do trim the plants, and when any face to face conversations take place. We learned the hard way, as my neighbor is a pathological liar (which eventually caught up with her in the long run, fortunately, for us).

Good luck


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

"If you can, hire an arborist to trim them for you. Keep ALL the bills. After a year (check the statute of limitations), take her to small claims, if necessary and if you have no other alternative or resolution, and it will be extremely reasonable for you to ask the courts for reimbursement for those fees. The fact that she is refusing your right to trim them, and the fact that she is doing nothing to prevent them from encroaching on YOUR property, especially after you've notified her, repeatedly, in writing, about your valid concerns, will not, in my opinion, look favorably upon her in the court of law. This is exactly what our attorney recommended to us."

Either you live in an area with strange laws governing trees or you had the wrong kind of attorney.

In most places the tree owner has NO responsibility to trim at the property line to prevent "encroaching."

If you do not want the trees over the line it is solely YOUR responsibility to have them cut back.

Trees that are actually causing damage (roots heaving patios, etc.) are a different issue in some places (but not all).

The 'self help' of trimming back to the property line at YOUR expense is the most common.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

most locales also have "setback" distances so you can't build a structure at the property line. I'm surprised your garage is so close.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

brickeye - the world is not "black and white". Nor is the law. I've been going through this long enough with my own neighbor to know.

I have a reputable attorney.

In the world of black and white, yes, it is "typically" the owners responsibility to trim back anything that is encroaching on their property, at their own expense.

Extenuating circumstances when the owner of the plants is a. refusing to do anything about them and b. denying the homeowner of her rights to trim them back herself, which c. creates a liability to the homeowner.

If those trees, plants, etc. can or does cause potential damage, again, this is a "grey" area.

When you get your law degree, come back here and tell me everything is black and white. I have three other attorneys that will disagree with your black and white views on the matter.

We live on 1/8 acre lots. Current setbacks are 18". My garage was built, I'm assuming, in the 1920's. They didn't have 18" setbacks at that time. Nothing in current ordinances which prevent planting anything along or on the property line, in our municipality.

However, if those trees negatively impact my property, i.e. my garage, they will come out, and my neighbors have been well informed.

Check with your local ordinances and a local attorney before assuming that every "general" rule applies to every municipality or every situation, for that matter.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

The OP's neighbor is not refusing to allow the OP to trim the bushes/trees - she is simply not kowtowing to the OP's demands to remove them entirely. These are two entirely different issues.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

"Extenuating circumstances when the owner of the plants is a. refusing to do anything about them and b. denying the homeowner of her rights to trim them back herself"

And how can your neighbor refuse you access to your own yard to trim?

Unless the trees are VERY tall, get a pole pruner and start trimming.

If you built in such a way you cannot get a bucket truck into your own yard that would be your problem.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

OP said:

"The largest tree has grown 2' into my property (I offered to cut it down when it was small, but she wouldn't let me)."

Brickeye said:

"And how can your neighbor refuse you access to your own yard to trim?" ---Where exactly did I say that the neighbor was refusing access to their own yard?

Layman's terms:

Neighbor A plants a tree.
That tree grows onto neighbor B's property.
Neighbor B wants to trim that portion of the tree which has encroached onto their property.
Neighbor A refuses their right to do that.
Note that, Neighbor B doesn't need to access neighbor A's property to trim it.
It is legally neighbor B's right to trim the tree that crosses the property boundary.
Neighbor A is attempting to infringe on Neighbor B's rights.

This was the example I gave. I shared my situation, and I compared it to OP's situation. These are two different situations, with similarities. I shared the legal advice we were given by a reputable attorney. We're all here to share our opinions.

I'm unclear what the problem is with sharing my viewpoints and opinions in the matter.

"if you built in such a way you cannot get a bucket truck into your own yard that would be your problem"

First, we didn't build.

Second, I don't need a bucket truck as that's irrelevant to a neighbor refusing someone's homeowners rights.

Third, Brickeye, why are you attacking me for sharing my opinions and sharing my own similar experiences?

The Op asked for suggestions from others who have lived next to a person like this. I shared my experience with the OP.

If you don't like the opinions I'm sharing with the OP, and can't respect Gardenweb's user policy, get off the thread.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

I believe the point was: If the tree is encroaching on the OP's property, the OP has the right to trim it while standing on the OP's property. The neighbor, unless threatening the OP with immediate bodily harm, cannot prevent the OP from doing so and has no way of removing the OP's right to trim the tree. Your case is ENTIRELY different if it is, in fact, physically impossible to trim your neighbor's trees from your own property. That is not the case with the OP, who just doesn't wish to have to pay to have the trees trimmed back a mere two feet.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

"Neighbor A refuses their right to do that. "

You simply ignore them and trim.

They have NO legal power to prevent you from trimming the portions over your land.

NONE.
They cannot stop you.

Why do you think they can?

You have created the situation yourself by allowing A to tell you what you cannot do on your own land.

You should have simply ignored them and proceeded, as is YOUR right.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

I think things got confused, because not only is this a "resurrected" thread, but then kimcoco added her story in as well, so we've got THREE separate situations and all kinds of discourse therein.

All I know is that if someone tries to come on my property to cut down my trees, unless they're encroaching on utility lines, they're going to have one heckuva fight on their hands. And I'm scrappy.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

"All I know is that if someone tries to come on my property to cut down my trees, unless they're encroaching on utility lines, they're going to have one heckuva fight on their hands. And I'm scrappy."

As long as the neighbor stays on their property they are allowed to cut overhanging branches in most jurisdictions
(KA the 'self help' rule).

kimcoco sounds like an person easily intimidated by their neighbor.
The neighbor cannot stop you from trimming back to the property line, no matter where the stump of the tree is in most jurisdictions.

'Reasonableness' still applies.
You cannot kill the tree.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

Pretty amazing thread! I just hope that all the posters that have a "bad neighbor" might be consoled by knowing that their neighbors probably have the same problem.


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RE: Bad neighbor's bad fence row

dennisgli - Best laugh I've had all day.


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