Won’t You Be My Neighbor? What You Need to Know About Tree Etiquette

February 9, 2022 9:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Part of living in any community is learning how to coexist with the folks all around you. This involves equal parts common courtesy, patience and diplomacy—particularly when it comes to the trees on your property.

Tending to your trees in health (and especially in sickness) is all part of being a good neighbor. It’s also important to understand how to approach tree etiquette with your neighbors if theirs are encroaching on your property rights.

Read on for some more thoughts about how our leafy friends can fit into our relationships with the folks in the next house over.

Scenario: Your neighbor’s tree falls on your property

This is the one challenge involving tree etiquette and your neighbors that everyone dreads. Having to talk to a neighbor about an issue of property damage can be an unpleasant but necessary task. The law on most of these types of scenarios may vary depending on which state you live in. In the instance of a healthy tree falling onto your property during a storm, then unfortunately, they’re not liable for damages. Perhaps you can come to some sort of agreement, but they’re under no obligation to give you any compensation.

On the other hand, if your neighbor’s tree was clearly rotting or decaying and then fell onto your car or your garage during the next storm, then you have a different situation. Your homeowner’s insurance can take point on a case like this, but there could be negligence in play that could put the neighbors on the hook for damages.

Scenario: A neighbor’s tree is blocking your sunlight

This is another situation where what the law says and what you can actually agree upon are two different things. In some states, your neighbor is under absolutely no obligation to trim, prune or cut down a tree for these types of concerns. If branches or roots grow so much that they cross a property line into your land, then you’re allowed to cut them back—but that’s it. One tip for good neighbor tree etiquette is to remember: If you’ve maintained good relations all along, then it’s possible to come to an agreement on trimming regardless.

Scenario: A tree straddles a property line

Not all issues involving tree etiquette and your neighbors boil down to questions of sole ownership and damages. In some states, a tree on the property line belongs to both people, and both must agree before any work is done on it that could damage the tree as a whole (such as cutting it down).

Tips for good neighbor tree etiquette mostly boil down to common sense. Do some research on the laws like the ones listed above, and try to always stay on cordial terms. You don’t have to be best friends with your neighbors, but it certainly helps to be on speaking terms. If you’re ready to go ahead and pull the trigger on tree removal or pruning on your own property, then it’s time to call our professional team at BBD Tree Service.

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