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Fence next to neighbors tree

Posted by etznab (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 15, 09 at 13:07

My neighbor has a tree that was planted perhaps 1 foot from the property line. Its a gigantic evergreen (both height and width) and the branches cross the property line. Im having a privacy fence installed, and Im wondering how best to address the fence issue by the tree. Do I trim the tree? Do I just have the fence jammed up against the tree and dont trim it? Do I not install a fence section by the tree?

I dont get along with this neighbor at all; hence the reason for us installing the fence. A friendly neighborhood discussion wont happen. Im already expecting a coming argument about us taking "his" property. Yes, I had my property surveyed; twice since he removed some of the stakes before the fence company got there.

There have been multiple issues about the property line and the "appearance" of my back yard. Although the front of my house is pristine, I will admit that my back yard is junky. He has complained about it to the authorities several times. Multiple code enforcement officers have visited the property and there is nothing legally wrong, it just doesnt look great.

Suggestions? I dont know enough about trees to know if extensive pruning will kill it. But I need a refuge from the neighbor and I think the fence will provide it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

What are you planning on trimming? Taking off some lower branches on your side won't hurt the tree if done properly...it will only annoy your neighbor. However, I would let him know what you are going to do before you do it, even if he won't like it. And I suggest that you model good neighbor behavior by telling him you know your back yard needs to be cleaned up, and then do it.

If the base of the tree is very close to the fence line, I would probably build up to it from either side and leave a little clearance. You can also choose to have the fence jog around it, but I wouldn't recommend that because that will result in your neighbor being able to legally claim that little area as his own some years down the road.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

Branches hanging over your property are legally yours to trim in most places.
I think I would take the branches off at the property line to the height of the fance so the fence can be installed.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

"If the base of the tree is very close to the fence line, I would probably build up to it from either side and leave a little clearance."

Leaving a partially fenced yard.
Just the thing for keeping dogs (and kids) in or out.

Cut the branches at the property line as needed to install the fence.
The only liability that attaches is if you trim so severely it damages the rest of the tree.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

I have found that in instances like you can get all kinds of advice, however most if not all of it is just baseless opinion. This is a situation that requires the knowledge of an expert tree trimmer, they can advise how much to trim and since they probably will be local they will be very knowledgeable about local laws relating to this situation. It may cost a few dollars, but better to pay now and know for sure than to just guess relying on hearsay and end up in court paying for the removal of a dead tree and replacement costs of one of the same size.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

How about consolidating whatever is 'junky' in your back yard to a smaller area and putting your 'spite fence' around that, leaving the borderline tree alone. That might lead to a better relationship with the neighbor when you improve his back window vista.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

brickeyee-
Cut me some slack! I said "a little clearance." Given the growth rate of trees, one could reasonably infer that I meant a couple of inches, not a couple of feet...


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

Being a "tree trimmer" from the past( at least in PA)the property owner has legal rights from the ground up, meaning that you could prune back any and all branches that come across the survey mark straight up. You could NOT get on the other persons property when doing the work.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

"Cut me some slack! I said "a little clearance." Given the growth rate of trees, one could reasonably infer that I meant a couple of inches, not a couple of feet..."

Obviously you do not own dogs.
Even a few inches with something as flexible as tree branches is a huge hole to a dog.

"I have found that in instances like you can get all kinds of advice, however most if not all of it is just baseless opinion. "

'Tree law' is reasonably constant across the US.
Anything hanging over a property line can be cut back to the line.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

when we put up a fence around the back lot at work a LARGE tree belonging to a neighbor was about 25% over the line into our side. we took a chainsaw and cut vertically right down the trunk to the ground, then made a horizontal cut and removed that wedge. our fence butts right up against the tree where we cut it. the tree has a slight slant to it, so at 4' high the cut was skimming the edge, while at the ground it was a good 10" deep. that was 6-7 years ago and the tree is still plenty healthy. this is an old pecan tree though, some trees won't survive that type trimming.

i would cut whatever needed cutting to install your fence. as long as you don't kill the tree or step foot on his property, he cannot say a thing.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

brickeyee-
Unless you have a Chihuahua, it's not getting through a 2" gap. You've got your opinion and I've got mine. I often think you give good advice. But you sometimes come across as a person who must be right all the time, and I think that can diminish the value of your advice.
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RE: Fence next to neighbor's tree...

...and just to be absolutely explicit, I'm talking about a small clearance around the trunk (or "base," as in my first post) since the OP can trim back interfering branches.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

"Unless you have a Chihuahua, it's not getting through a 2" gap."

From the OP
"My neighbor has a tree that was planted perhaps 1 foot from the property line. Its a gigantic evergreen (both height and width) and the branches cross the property line."

Ever seen a large evergreen?

They branches give the tree a decidedly cone shape, wide at the bottom and narrowing with height.

It would appear that that the branches at the bottom are over the property line.
If the fence is erected up to the branches, it will leave a very large gap that any dog will easily get through.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

brickeyee-
I live in the Pacific NW...I know all about giant firs and evergreens: I probably have 20 old-growth trees on my property.

You're not understanding. I'm saying: a) cut the lower branches (if any) that would interfere with a fence, and b) build the fence up to the trunk on either side leaving a small gap for growth. Anyway, I was just making some suggestions to the OP -- who never mentioned a dog in the first place -- and I'm sure he'll tell me if he's confused. If you want to continue to make unhelpful observations, go for it. But I prefer to stay positive, so I'm not taking the bait again.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

'Tree law' is reasonably constant across the US.
Anything hanging over a property line can be cut back to the line.

Generalized assumptions can end up costing thousands of dollars, a professional tree trimmer maybe a few hundred. Baseless opinion is just that unless you live in that jurisdiction and know their laws. Why advise someone based solely on your strongly biased opinions, some of the others here actually know a few facts, whether or not you are willing to accept anything other than your own "never wrong" opinion!


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

"'Tree law' is reasonably constant across the US.
Anything hanging over a property line can be cut back to the line."

How many states have you actually looked at?

I have at least 36.

It is reasonably constant with at least 36 of 50 states.

Half the time the tree services have at best a vague idea.

If you want an absolute answer pay an attorney some money, or look it up yourself.

Be warned it is often case (common) law.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

It would appear that that the branches at the bottom are over the property line.

Appearances can been deceiving without pictures


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

I planted a evergreen in my yard about 5 feet from the fence, about 16 years ago. I really should have planted it a bit father away. I cut off branches that hit the fence, not all the way just enough so it doesn't touch the fence and the tree seems to be just fine. Best time to trim is in the fall/late fall. I would send him a nice letter letting him know you need to trim his tree a bit only to the property line to put up the fence and put up markers where the fence will be going up. He may appreciate the fence too since you don't get along well. Have you had a survey done or can you find the property markers? Just to be safe I would clearly mark where the fence will go so your neighbor sees it well before fence is started. Take pictures of the markers, before and after trimming the tree with markers in place.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

the biggest difference in "tree" law is who is responsible for parts of the tree on another person's property. in most areas each property owner is responsible ONLY for the portion of the tree on their propery. in others, the "tree owner" is the person whose land the base of the tree is on and they can be forced to trim it back from the other person's property. the other big difference is who is responsible for damages should the tree/a limb/roots cause damage. in most areas again the person whose side of the line is where the damage happened is responsible(except in teh case of a known hazzard from a dead/decaying tree), very few areas have gone to making it the other person's problem.

as to a 2inch hole only letting a small dog thru, i have persoally watched a 75# lab mix chew a 4"Wx 5-6"H hole(1 plank) in a WOOD fence and then sqeeze her body thru it. if they can get there head thru easily, they can usually get their body thru. in the case of a chain link fence that gives some, a dog can easily get under a 2" gap. if ntohing else they will dig a small hole under it to aide in their passage.


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RE: Fence next to neighbors tree

Well, good thing that the OP isn't concerned about a dog, then...


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