Talk to your neighbour!
The majority of
questions that I get asked in relation to
neighbours could be easily solved by talking
them in a reasonable manner. I appreciate this
is not always realistic, but many problems
could be solved if people did this first -
and sooner rather than later.
"Will this large tree next to my house
damage it?" - with advice goes
liability. I will always say if there is a
danger, chop it down. Maybe 95 - 99 out of
100 will be ok, but those few that aren't
could be pretty disastrous, you can risk it,
but I'm not going to suggest you do.
"Will the roots from this hedge damage my /
my neighbours, house / drive etc.?" as
above - the variables of soil, local
climate, plant variety, building standards
etc. make advice impossible to give online.
If you are
concerned about damage to your property from
yours or your neighbours plants, or that
your plants may cause damage to your
neighbours property, then the best immediate thing you
can do is to ensure you are properly covered
by your buildings and liability insurance.
plant altogether will of course remove the
More on problem hedges
What chemicals or
otherwise do I use to get rid of ivy growing all
over my fence from next door. Its starting to
envelop my shed which is alongside the fence.
Unfortunately all you can do is
cut off what comes on your property. Chemicals
would cause a plant that is in your neighbours
garden to be damaged which is against the law.
It might be worth mentioning to your neighbour
if you get on, as he/she may not be aware of the
problem that you see it as.
have been living at our present address since
1986. Between 1986 and 1990 we had planted
conifers along the fences of the neighbours
The conifers grew and have
been trimmed with no problems and have/had been
growing quite nicely. In 1997 one set of
neighbours sold up and moved.
The new owners immediately indicated that they
hated not only the conifers but the tree at the
bottom of our garden. Within 6 months of moving
in, the tree had been damaged. Conifers along
the bordering fence have one by one gone brown
and died. Any idea if or how we can
prove that the conifers are being 'killed off'.
We note that they planted "ivy" where the
conifers have died and within the last couple of
weeks "ivy" has been planted next to the living
The death of the conifers is certainly
very suspicious and natural causes would seem
exceedingly unlikely. Proving this is
another matter however. It would seem that some
kind of chemical has been used to damage the
trees either directly on the leaves or on the
roots. Leaf and /or soil samples would be
necessary to show the causative agent and then
you have the problem of proving how it came to
be there - probably not a huge priority for the
I don't know if this would
regarded as a criminal or civil matter. Your
first step should be to approach a solicitor,
many will give a free 15-20 minute first
consultation on how to approach the matter.
Though many will accept any work that may come
their way irrespective of their experience or
expertise in the matter (I'm hoping you're not a
The ivy would seem to be a way
of covering the dead branches with some living
greenery. Newly planted ivy would in no way
be able to kill off, or even hold its own
against a large healthy conifer or other tree.
Please tell me of the problems that occur
when Ivy is grown up outside walls.
Brick rendered. I have problems with neighbours
growing Ivy on my outside walls which I need to
discuss with them.
Unless a wall is already in bad
shape, then ivy won't damage it. If you
remove the ivy, you'll get some marks that are
unsightly for a while, but they can soon be
If the brick is rendered
however - or pebble-dashed, then there is a
possibility that the ivy could in time pull this
away from the wall - possibly quite
spectacularly in large pieces.
My backyard is about 50 feet by 30 feet.
I have a chain link fence around the yard. I
would really like to plant something all along
the fence to create a wall (undesirable
neighbors.) So it needs to be fast growing.
I would prefer something that blooms in pink or
white. But at this point speed & cost is our
main factors. I have heard about the ameri-willow
but this doesn't bloom. So could you give me
some suggestions, prices, and tips on how much
to order and how to plant the item. Thank you
If the problem is your neighbours, then the
quickest solution is a wooden panel fence. Any
hedging plant is going to take several years to
grow tall enough and dense enough to make an
As for which plant, a fast
growing hybrid willow would probably be the
quickest solution, but as with any fast growing
plant, you need to keep it trimmed back 2-3
times a year once mature if it is not to become
unruly. Non-flowering plants will be the
quickest, anything that flowers will put it's
energy into the flowers instead of growing
upwards and that will make it grow all the
slower. Also, flowering hedges are less formal -
shabbier if you're unkind - than a regularly
trimmed hedge otherwise you cut the flowers off.
Your best bet would be Cherry
Laurel or ordinary Privet which will flower if
left untrimmed until after the flowers have done
their stuff. Small plants will establish well
and grow quickly, but no-where near as fast as a
fence! The cheapest place to get them will
probably be from a local nursery, for some
reason laurels are not available in North
America on the web with any regularity.
If my neighbour wishes to trim my tree that
is over hanging into her garden am I obliged to
have the branches that she has cut or am I
entitled to get her to dispose of them. thank
The law says they belong to you, so your
neighbour is obliged to return them to you. This
is their only obligation. Depositing them on
your neighbours land would be the equivalent of
dumping refuse, so from that perspective the
legal obligation to deal with the branches is
After all, they're your trees
and your neighbour neither planted them nor
should have to put up with them growing in her
Our neighbour has a fixed trellis on the
boundary wall which we believe is causing damp
problems in our kitchen. Our neighbour
is very unreasonable so is there any legal way
we can make her remove it?
Trellis is allowed on top of walls and
fences without permission being needed - depends
on how big it is of course, but a fence over 6
foot would require planning permission whereas a
2 foot trellis on top of a 6 foot fence
wouldn't. I suggest you measure it and contact
your local council planning office.
As for the damp, I'd have a
word with your insurance company. Potentially it
is causing damage that could lead to a claim. If
the insurance company pay out on that claim,
they would seek to claim it back from your
neighbour who caused the claim to occur. Do you
have legal assistance as part of the home
My neighbour has several Lleylandii trees that
are over 25 feet tall. They are planted about 9
inches from our boundary fence. the closest is
about 20 feet from the rear of the house. I have
cut them back to the fence.
Am I allowed to dig a trench along the boundary
fence on our side down to the roots and cut the
roots off as the trees prevent anything growing
under them. would this kill them.
Also how far down would the roots go.
As I understand the law, yes you can dig a
trench and sever the roots as the same laws
apply to the soil under your property as the air
above it as regards the growth of neighbours
While you can cut through the
roots, if this leads to the death of the trees
then you are liable for that damage. I would
check the legal situation with a professional
though before engaging on such a drastic (and
hard work) course of action.
How far the roots go depends
on many variables, but major ones probably to
2-3 feet down.
Please let me know what the law stipulates
regarding overgrown trees from my neighbour.
I'm not a lawyer so this is not the
definitive legal definition.
Applies to the UK only
- You can remove any overhanging branches or
foliage to your property from your neighbour -
the law says that you must return it to them
though (maybe not a good idea however if they
don't like you cutting it in the first place! -
this part was designed for things like apples
and other fruit that still belong to the
neighbour). If they're likely to be acrimonious
about it, I'd keep the trimmings to one side for
a while just in case.
What you can't do is reduce
the height of any trees as to do this you are
encroaching on your neighbours property. You can
however get them to reduce the height of a hedge
to 7 feet, a hedge is defined as a continuous
run of evergreens that is 3m or more long.
We have a back garden fence that divides our
house with our neighbours.
They are very nosey and only come out when we go
into our garden. Both myself and my wife don't
feel comfortable going into our garden which we
take pride in because of them and are desperate
now as we have thought about planting Lleylandii
to gain privacy.
The houses are on a slope and
their house and garden is slightly higher than
ours. Our fence is 1.8 metres high on our side
and from their side is only 1.5 metres high so
they can be standing in their garden and look
straight into ours.
We are thinking of adding
trellis to our fence to add height but would
also consider another form of plant rather than
Lleylandii to put in our garden that would grow
to about 2 to 3 metres height very quickly and
not require constant trimming. Can you recommend
anything? This is our dream home and is being
spoilt by these inconsiderate and nosey
The quickest way is to add a 2 foot high trellis
to the top of the fence and grow a climber along
it, honeysuckle, golden hop or crimson glory
vine are all quick growers and twiners rather
than clingers so wouldn't start to damage the
fence, they are deciduous, though evergreen
honeysuckle are available. An alternative to Lleylandii is laurels, but
anything fast growing is going to need regular
trimming by definition, in any case with a hedge
you're looking at a few years before it forms an
effective barrier with branches knitted
together. I'd be inclined to go for trellis +
climber in the shorter term with laurels growing
up for the longer term.
How high can I grow Leyland's in my front
garden, my garden is very unusual and faces on
to 3 other houses which are separated by a
shared drive, at present the trees are about 3ft
high and some one keeps cutting them, I am
unable to catch that person at present and they
were put in to stop my dog jumping the fence
is there any legal height that I have to
follow, I am unable to find any information on
There is no legal limit on the height that you
can let your hedge grow. It is however illegal
to cut down someone else's hedge without their
We are having a very expensive wood privacy
fence installed in our back yard. our one next
door neighbor grows ivy along the property line,
and he lets its grow up the sides of his trees,
his shed, everything, he says he doesn't trim
it. The fence people suggested we put the fence
on that side one foot inside our property line
so we could go around and trim the ivy from
growing up our very expensive wooden fence, the
neighbor said "I don't think I like that" .
How can we stop his ivy from
growing up our fence (one foot inside our
property line) he plans to plant ivy to the
fence once it is up. we thought we could put a
border of two by fours on the actual property
line to define the one foot space we are
leaving, but I am told ivy will grow right over
that. please help, we have put a LOT of money
into this fence and can't afford to pay for
repairs that ivy damage will cause.
Well it sounds like a combination of what the
law is in your state and what your neighbourly
relations are - not too good by the sounds of
I live in the UK where the law
says that you can cut off any growth from your
neighbours plants that stray across the boundary
line as long as you return what you have removed
(not always a good idea!). So if that applies
where you are, your solution is fine, if your
neighbour doesn't like it, then tough - he can get his
own fence to cover in ivy.
There could be an intermediate
solution, put up chain link fencing between your
2 x 4 boundary markers to intercept the ivy and
cut off anything that strays across.
the law is where you are should be your
first port of call.
Two years ago our neighbours built a large
concrete and brick summerhouse at the top of
their garden, right on the boundary, removing
some of the boundary wall to do so. Last year we
landscaped our garden and I planted a
Parthenocissus to screen the ugly grey side wall
of the building that now faces us.
I have been very careful to
trim it and ensure it doesn't grow round onto
the front of their building, although it had
started to grow onto their roof and I hadn't
trimmed that yet (I'm a new gardener and didn't
realise how quickly it grows!)
It's taken 18 months to cover
the area, and was about to come into its full
Yesterday I saw to my shock and dismay that
they appear to have ripped it off the side wall
and severed the stems down to a few feet below
the height that it was when I bought it
(it was quite an expensive plant as I bought a
tall one). I presume they did this from their
roof with long handled shears.
I feel very upset as it was my
favourite secluded part of my garden, and they
didn't say anything to us before doing it, even
though I thought we had a very good relationship
with them. Before I approach them about it, I'd
like to know if they were within their rights to
do it as it's their building, or whether it's OK
for us to screen the side that faces us in this
way (they never consulted us about putting up
this type of building when they built it).
I don't know the
definitive legal position and you need to
approach a lawyer / citizens rights etc. if you
want the true legal facts.
That they didn't consult you
about the building probably means that planning
permission wasn't needed, though isn't
necessarily the case, phone your local planning
office to make sure. You can do pretty much
what you want in your own garden as long as you
don't breach these regulations and it's unlikely
they would have been able to get as far as
building it without coming up against that
As far as your plant growing
up their building is concerned, this is the
situation as far as I am aware, though I may be
wrong, this is where things are a little
Your plant was growing in your garden, at
the point where it strayed into your
neighbours garden, they were within their
rights to cut it back to the boundary. If it
was up to the roof, there was a good chance
it could grow through the tiles to the
interior and start to lift and remove tiles.
Your neighbours had no right to cut it
back as they did as they were doing so in
your garden and no matter what the perceived
threat, even if it may have caused damage,
they can't cut plants back that are growing
in your garden, except for those parts that
are over the boundary line.
Now, a realistic approach
- You shouldn't have let it grow so high up the
wall and approach the roof, maybe they thought
you were just going to leave it? No plant grows
that fast - even a snail can accomplish that
distance more than once overnight and I assume
you can outpace a snail.
They certainly shouldn't have
cut it back so far, but they have and the damage
is done. By rights they could only cut to the
boundary. Can you let your plant grow up their
property? That's the bit I'm not sure of, but
I'd be surprised if you couldn't. Maybe a wall
shrub rather than climber would have been a more
There is another possible
issue here of the removal of part of the
boundary wall to make room for the building. Who
did the wall belong to? Does the building now
take the place of the boundary wall? Do
different rules apply in that case? These are
questions that only a lawyer or maybe your local
council can answer.
Diplomatic solution? Let them
know how upset you were at them illegally (I
think) cutting your plant down (why didn't they
say anything?) and replace it with a wall shrub
Some 4 years ago my neighbour had a block drive
laid about 3 feet from my conifers that have
been there for about 32 years.
He now says that the trees are taking water and
his drive is sinking in some parts.
Whilst I know this is possible is it my
responsibility when he knew of the trees when he
had the drive laid?
There is also the possibility of course that the
drive wasn't laid properly or that he's using
heavy vehicles on it that he wasn't previously.
After all if the trees have been there 32 years,
why should the sinking occur just when the drive
This is a legal matter rather
than gardening, I suggest you approach your
local council or Citizens Advice Bureau in the
first place if he starts to get awkward about