Neighbor Hedge Dispute. Please Help!

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  #1  
Old 03-04-04, 05:57 PM
indigo997
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Neighbor Hedge Dispute. Please Help!

I really hope someone here can offer some advice on this because I'm so upset about it.
Last fall we were doing yardwork and discovered that a mature flowering hedge behind our garage had been cut down to the ground. The hedge was made up of about 12 bushes that bloomed with very small white flowers in early spring (looked like baby's breath). I'm sure that they did need pruned as we just bought the house last year and haven't had a chance to get to that part of the yard yet. However, this entire hedge was on MY property. The previous owner had planted it far enough back so that it would not go onto the neighbor's property.
I didn't say anything to the neighbor because I'd rather just let them grow back than cause trouble. However, I was really upset that she had done this.

Yesterday, the same neighbor had someone come and plant a row of Leyland cypress trees along the front of our property line. They are about 3' tall and 6' apart, but are ON the property line which is only 3 feet from my driveway! She says they grow 3 feet a year and will grow together to form a hedge.

I'm so mad, but I don't know what I can do. Can someone please advise me on this. These things are going to get HUGE. I did go and ask her about it, and she said not to worry because she will keep them trimmed. It doesn't matter how much you trim them though, these are trees and they won't stay small. ANY growth will spread onto my property.
We currently have one of those old driveways with two strips of concrete but plan on having the entire thing paved within the next year. We want to pave it very close to the property line (adding about a foot from where it is now) so that the driveway will run right up to the corner of our garage. These trees are going to be in the way though if they grow any, and won't the roots cause problems with the new driveway?

I know that if she moves them onto her property I have no say in it, but what if they're on the line as they are now?

I really need to know what my rights are and what I could say to her to possibly get her to move them before they take root.

I can't believe she did this without even talking to me. Now I'm even madder about her coming onto my property and cutting down my mature, flowering hedge that was behind the garage. It's not like it was bothering her any! She said it was an "eyesore", but it was behind her garage!

She also had the guy yesterday plant a hemlock tree at the back corner of my garage ON the property line which puts the branches about 2 feet from my garage wall.

I need some ammo so that I can go back and talk to her about it again, but what can I say? PLEASE help. This is making me sick worrying about it.
 
  #2  
Old 03-04-04, 06:41 PM
C
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At first blush, it seems as if there is some hidden agenda here.

I would talk to her about the bushes that are on your property. Eyesore or not, she is not right to come cut them.

The trees will become a problem. You can trim off whatever protrudes onto your property. I do this with one neighbor. Trim right to the trunk on those trashy bradford pears he planted right at my fence.

Leyland Cypress will become a substantial problem in short order, because they grow rapidly. If you have to dig a ditch along the property line each year, it may have an adverse effect on her invading trees. Roots don't take well to trimming.

I don't know about laws in your area, but often you cannot put a fence exactly on the property line, it must be set back some distance. This may apply here, too.

I wonder if a good neighborly fence might be in order here?
 
  #3  
Old 03-04-04, 06:48 PM
indigo997
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She had her gardener guy cut down a couple of the smaller trees on our property line today. What I'm wondering is, if I let this go for now and she doesn't keep them trimmed... do I have the right to just cut them down?
Who owns the trees on the line? Does she just because she planted those? She hadn't planted the ones she cut down.
I don't want to complain and have her just move them back a foot onto her property because I'd still have the root problem. I also don't want this to become my problem... I don't want to have to be pruning and trimming all the time to keep HER mess off my driveway.
 
  #4  
Old 03-04-04, 08:20 PM
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You likely cannot fell a tree that is not totally yours. You can trim it even with the property line.

If the tree is exactly on the property line, it would seem to be half yours. I imagine that you could fell that half. It should not be there except for bi-lateral agreement.

The trees should stay back fairly well when pruned at the property line.

Nevertheless, it seems that some discussion could quell later problems.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 03-04-04, 09:01 PM
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Have a talk with your attorney so you know how the laws work in your area. You don't want to start a feud, but you need to know what your rights are so you can communicate with your neighbor - hopefully in a friendly way, but firmly if necessary.
 
  #6  
Old 03-04-04, 11:28 PM
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Hhmm..

Find out how big in diameter the tree and it's lower limbs will get and suggest she move them back at least that far. You don't want them that close to your driveway, as it will scratch your vehicle, so you'd have to keep them trimmed back which may adversly affect them. Trees that are constantly cut on, especially at the root level, tend not to survive long as they become invested with insects that like to eat them from the inside out.

Clearly, nothing should ever be put exactly on the property line.

As for your driveway and garage, you may find when you go to do your driveway that you cannot put it that close to the property line anyway. Here, it would have to be at least 5' away from the property line. Your garage would have to be 10' away from the line.
 
  #7  
Old 03-05-04, 10:28 AM
indigo997
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There must be some sort of grandfather clause then because my garage is only maybe 4' from the property line now.
The guys who built these two houses were brothers, and my family lived in her house before we bought this one so I'm pretty sure this is the first time there's ever been a problem like this.
Does anyone know about what she should have put down to keep the roots from coming my way?
Also, where would I find out how much room these things are going to need because I'm sure the 3' she gave them isn't enough. Even if she could keep them that small, we couldn't open our car doors! I did read that you're only supposed to plant them where they have lots of room to grow and there are no overhanging trees. Neither of these apply to the spot she chose to plant them.
ARghhhh.
I also don't have a lawyer and can't afford to pay one for advice.
 
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Old 03-05-04, 03:57 PM
indigo997
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Here are pictures of the trees. Aren't these too close to my driveway?
 
  #9  
Old 03-05-04, 06:04 PM
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I put some comments on the comments section of the photographs.
 
  #10  
Old 03-05-04, 08:15 PM
indigo997
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chfite, I know that the new trees are in line with the old ones. The old ones were planted there when the two houses were built by two brothers so they were put on the property line on purpose. I didn't agree to having new trees on the line though so I don't think she had the right to plant new ones there. Especially since these aren't trees that are going to go up and only have trunks to contend with... these are going to be several feet wide at the bottom with lots of branches that can scratch the car or kids.
The trees are ON the property line so suggesting I trim them back to the property line doesn't help much. She didn't actually have it surveyed and the marker has mysteriously disappeared within the last year or two, but she tried to put them on the line by lining them with the other trees. I asked her if she knows exactly where the line is and she said that she thinks it is the tree line.

I almost had my homeowners canceled and had to pay a LOT of money last year to have two hemlocks cut down because they were hanging over my front porch. I also had to have the roof replaced partly because of damage caused by those overhanging hemlocks. I do not want more large trees planted close to my garage or driveway that are going to create problems like that, and it isn't right that someone else should be able to make decisions that are going to negatively affect my property like that.

I can't move my driveway over because it runs straight up and into the garage, and why should I have to just because she wants to put trees over onto my property?

Can you tell I'm getting really upset over this whole thing?
 
  #11  
Old 03-05-04, 08:35 PM
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It might be worthwhile to find the iron pins for the survey. Where the actual property line is could mean everything. Its verification eliminates debate about where it is.

Check your local laws. A lot of this is on line. You could install a vertical barrier on your side of the property line to prevent the intrusion of tree roots onto your property.

I recall the saying that a fence makes for good neighbors.
 
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Old 03-06-04, 10:51 AM
indigo997
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The last survey was done when she purchased the house about 5 years ago, and I remember there being some sort of stake in the ground, but it's gone. IS there a pin buried? If so, how would I find it? I don't have a metal detector handy
 
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Old 03-08-04, 06:01 PM
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Hedge dispute

Most folks plant things without any knowledge or realization of how large they will be at maturity. Drive around your town an look at foundation plantings and see for yourself.

I agree with checking on local ordinances regarding property lines, fences, and property line plantings. Yes, you own your property up to the sky on the property line and have the legal authority to trim any overhanging branches up to the sky.

Yet, consider how important this property line is. If the plantings will provide privacy and offer a line of demarcation that will shield you from your neighbor, then a few feet might not be important despite the property line. Their plantings may actually be beneficial. However, if these plantings encroach upon your structure and could cause damage such as stopped up gutters and downspouts, roots penetrating your basement foundation, etc., then perhaps proactive behavior is necessary.

If in doubt about your property lines, then a survey should be done. One should have been done when you purchased the property and surveyor's iron pins installed to mark the boundaries. If they were driven beneath the soil level, a metal detector should be able to locate them.

Check local ordinances, as darling chfite suggests, to learn about fence and hedge placement in your area. These tend to be specific to local ordinances, so it is important to check and inquire regarding your options.

If in doubt about the species of plants and their size at maturity, contact your local Dept. of Agriculture Extension Agent. He/She can stop by and identify species and provide you with growth habits and expected size at full maturity. Get this in writing before pursing legal action or any other action that you plan on taking.

I am always uncomfortable when it comes to neighbor relationships. I always want everyone in the world to be good neighbors and I have always strived to be one. Please don't think I want you to march forth being adversarial, but it is important to pursue your options within the law in order to protect your property. Yet, it is important to promote good relationships with neighbors. You never know when you may need to call a neighbor when in need. Perhaps I live in a dream world, but I just want everyone to get along. If I lived next door to you, I would never plant any plant that would encroach upon your property. Unfortunately, many neighbors don't see it that way.
 
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Old 03-09-04, 06:13 AM
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twelvepole -

Your statement that....
"Yes, you own your property up to the sky on the property line and have the legal authority to trim any overhanging branches up to the sky." may not be totally correct.

In my area for example, you can't cut overhanging tree branches if that will damage or kill the tree. Technically, you're supposed to call the city arborist who will determine what can and can't be trimmed.

I stand with my earlier post regarding determination of local law before trying to resolve any property line issues. If an attorney isn't possible, a visit to city hall may give the information needed to come up with a fair (and legal) resolution. While it's true that everyone should just get along, it's important to know your legal rights before you get into a potential conflict.
 

Last edited by Dave_D1945; 03-09-04 at 06:24 AM.
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Old 03-09-04, 01:36 PM
indigo997
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I've been emailing different city offices to find out who has info regarding this. I found ordinances online but nothing pertaining to my situation. We live in a fairly big city with a court house and a city/county building, and I'm not sure who to even ask.

I don't see how there can be a rule saying I can just trim if it won't kill the tree when she put the tree ON the line! That just isn't fair. She can cut down trees and plant trees on the line, but I can't?

I have to find who to call to locate the exact property line too. She thinks she put them on the line, but it will help if she's wrong.
 
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Old 03-09-04, 02:08 PM
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Try calling your city Public Works office. They would probably be able to direct you to the right person. Once you know what's legal and not legal in your city, you'll be able to talk to your neighbor and know what things you can insist on v.s. what would be nice.
 
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Old 03-09-04, 07:41 PM
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Real Estate laws.

indigo997 said:

I don't see how there can be a rule saying I can just trim if it won't kill the tree when she put the tree ON the line! That just isn't fair. She can cut down trees and plant trees on the line, but I can't?
____________________________________________

Indigo, I can see how you would be upset, however at this point you are only guessing at what protections you do & do not have. Also this is a Garden Forum, not a legal help site dealing in legal Real Estate matters.

There are forums if you look for them, where you may get answers from real lawyers, as to what your rights are. We may not like the laws as they affect us, but obey them we must. Since no one has identified themselves in this thread as a Lawyer in your City, we are only guessing now.

You IMHO are wasting a lot of good time here, complaining to a group of Gardeners who are unable to help you. This is Real Estate Law & that is where you should consentrate all your searches on. Unless you can afford a lawyer of your own, you will have to do what many of us have to do, find it on the Internet ourselves.

Searching can be much more effective if you follow the links on some of the best sites you find even if that site does not have the answers.
www.google.com is the search engine you will find your best information with, start with your State laws & work your way to your City regulations using Real Estate Laws, to pin point your searchs.

Good Luck to you indigo .

Marturo
 
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Old 03-09-04, 07:59 PM
indigo997
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Concern!

I thought it was pretty obvious from my last post that I am looking elsewhere for answers. I can't very well vent to the government though, and I thought that maybe some other people might have been through this before and might know the names of the offices I should contact or have some other helpful advice.
As for wasting my time, I don't think that's your concern. I've only been responding to followup posts on a thread that I started.
__________________________________________________

As a Moderator of the DIY Garden forum, I enforce the rules. As for wasting anyones time, I do believe it is my concern how far it goes.

I closed this thread, as I have decided it has gone quite far enough, & is not helping anyone any longer.

Marturo
 

Last edited by marturo; 03-09-04 at 11:19 PM.
 

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