can i cut tree branches that hang over into my yard?

For people who haven’t dealt with neighbor disputes over trees and shrubbery, tree branches might seem like a really silly thing to fight about. They’re just branches, after all, and most of us go through our daily lives without having to think too much about them.

But tree branches can become a serious disagreement between neighbors– and these disagreements can spiral into legal issues if the proper steps aren’t taken toward mediation.

What kinds of disputes can occur over tree branches?

Consider the following scenario: you purchased a house during the winter, when the local trees had lost their leaves. Your next-door neighbors have a long driveway right next to yours, which is lined with gorgeous trees. 

However, in the spring, the leaves start to come in and you notice that visibility at the end of your driveway is greatly affected by your neighbors’ tree branches, which hang over the property line, putting you at risk of an accident since you can’t see oncoming traffic while pulling out of your driveway.

What would you do in this situation?

Can I just go over there and cut my neighbor’s tree down myself?

It’s likely that your neighbors will be opposed to cutting their trees back, too. After all, the trees are gorgeous, and the long tree-lined driveway adds to the appeal and value of their home.

The visual appeal and value of their home are important, especially if your neighbors are considering selling their home, but also just for their daily enjoyment of their property. But of course, your safety when pulling onto your road is paramount!

The short answer is no, you cannot go over there with a chainsaw and remove the offending branches to free your view of the road. 

Why? Because the ownership of the tree is determined by where the tree’s trunk sits. If the tree’s trunk sits entirely on your neighbor’s property, that tree is legally theirs. Iif you went over there to cut it down, or just cut down branches, you’d be breaking the law and putting yourself at risk of legal trouble.

What options do I have if my neighbor’s tree is hanging onto my property?

As in most cases, the easiest solution is usually the best one. Don’t simmer in your resentment– just go over and talk to your neighbor face-to-face. Approach the situation as calmly and amicably as possible; use the same strategies that you’d use in any other disagreement. 

For example, avoid using “you” phrases whenever possible. “Your tree branches are blocking my view!” is more confrontational than something like “I’m having a hard time seeing the street when I pull out of my driveway. Could we talk about the trees?”

If you want a good outcome and to preserve a good relationship with your neighbor, it’s best to be as diplomatic as you can. It’s entirely possible that the two of you can reach an agreement that works for you both!

What if my neighbor refuses to handle the offending branches?

Again, cutting them down yourself puts you at risk of legal trouble. In fact, if it’s determined that you’ve caused damage to the tree itself, you might be held liable for the value of the tree itself. 

If you’re unable to resolve the situation amicably with your neighbor, it’s time to seek legal representation. Our team of skilled lawyers at Davidson Law Firm is prepared to mediate the disagreement and help both of you reach an agreement that’s beneficial to everyone.

Give us a call at 501-374-9977 or contact us for a consultation today.