When working in an urban setting trees can often grow beyond the property line and onto neighboring properties. In many instances the shade and foliage is welcome as long as the tree is not hitting a house or roof line. Other times people can have pools, sun loving plants and gardens or want to have more sun in their house or patio. When dealing with neighboring properties and tree care there are some very important things to consider.
1. Trees are alive and pruning limbs back aggressively can compromise health and structure. Consult an arborist to ensure your pruning methods are appropriate and take into consideration the health and the structure of the tree. You do not find yourself liable for injuring a tree. There are bylaws in place to protect trees from being injured and it is important to understand that there are limits to what can and cannot be cut.
2. You cannot trespass on the neighboring property to access the limbs or trees. Consent to enter someone's property is imperative when pruning a neighboring tree. You cannot just enter the property without consent in writing. Otherwise you will be trespassing and can be charged and fined.
3. Speak with your neighbor prior to cutting any limbs to make them aware. In many instances the tree owner is unaware you have an issue with their tree on your property. Out of sight it is usually out of mind. You can have a written description emailed or left in the mailbox detailing what you would like to prune or cut back. If the description is prepared by an ISA certified arborist it can help create clarity and assurance that you have considered the health of their tree.
4. If you are denied the ability to access the property or your neighbor does not want the tree pruned. You can involve your home insurance. Your home insurance will send a letter to the neighboring property detailing that tree maintenance was denied and that when damage occurs their insurance will be required to repair and cover the cost. This will start the dialogue between insurance companies and make them aware that the issue needs to be corrected. Also calling your BY LAW officer will help create clarity of what you can or cannot do. Often the BY LAW officer will issue the homeowner to comply or deal with the issue on their own at their expense not yours. We will only recommend these as a last resort and often having a neighborly conversation is the best course of action.
5. Be understanding. Trees have a great importance to the community and potentially to the neighbor. If they are hesitant ask them to take a moment and look from your side of the fence. Return the gesture and have a look at what the tree means to their side of the fence. Sometimes it will take a mediator like a consulting arborist to relay how both property owners can get what they need from the tree while accomplishing some pruning to clear limbs back.
6. Lastly, know your rights. You absolutely have a right to maintain and protect your property. You have the right to prune the tree in a respectful manner that is within the bylaws. Use these rights to articulate your concern while maintaining respect for your neighbor and the tree. If you are having trouble communicating your rights, hire a consulting arborist to help relay and confirm an action plan that is considerate and detailed.
Working on neighboring trees can be tricky to navigate at times, we are happy to help with the process and make sure that you can keep your property safe and enjoyable. Call or email today to set up your free consult with one of our ISA certified arborists. Please understand that we cannot work on neighboring trees without written consent. This extra step will save time and aggravation and keep your relationships strong and positive within your community.