Landscaping Trees and Property Line Issues

Landscaping trees that grow on or near property lines can be quite tricky when it comes to trimming or removal. This scenario can become a little more complicated when it comes to variations in law between states and even between counties or parishes within those states. The primary legal overture, however, appears to be that disagreements regarding trees on property lines are a civil issue and should be handled as such.

Although specifics may vary between locales, most available information suggests that the property upon which a tree’s trunk sits designates the rightful owner of the tree. However, there are considerations for non-owners as well. Consider that tree branches, including their blooms or fruits, that overhang the property of a neighbor not legally designated as the tree’s owner may be trimmed by the non-owner for several reasons. Primarily, a non-owner has the legal right to protect his or her property from any damage that may be incurred from a tree, whether on the ground or within property airspace. This may include such things as weakened limbs that may collapse or heavy limbs that overhang their residence, vehicles, or power lines. These can easily become safety issues, costly financial woes, or legal disputes between the most agreeable of neighbors.

Additionally, most available information also suggests that a non-owner has the right to trim or remove overhanging branches if their presence is deemed a nuisance. For instance, an overhanging branch that hinders the light from a street light may be considered such. In Austin, Texas, contact an highly experienced Austin tree trimming professional to assist you with removing problematic limbs while still maintaining the integrity of the tree.

It is recommended that neighbors work together to determine what courses of action may be taken to amicably resolve property line issues. Unfortunately, however, remaining disputes or lack of resolution may require legal intervention. This may be especially true if the trunk of a tree actually divides properties. In most legal instances, this makes all owners, whose properties are divided by the tree, players in a perplexing and sometimes very complicated legal situation. This makes it important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the usual legal perspective on the issue.

If you attempt to achieve resolution, but find that a neighbor is obstinate regarding the issue, it is likely in your best interest to seek legal intervention before taking any action on a tree. After all, it is better to have the legal backing and assurances on your side before proceeding with action than to later learn your actions may have been contrary to state or local policies regarding the matter.

There are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid such issues in the future. For instance, a new homeowner whose landscape is not yet developed may choose to plant trees in locations that will not greatly impact neighboring properties. Consider the tree species you’d like to plant on your property and research their average growth. This includes the span of the canopy, the trunk circumference, and the expansion of the roots underground. Also, consider how the roots of trees near property lines may impact you legally should disease, such as Austin oak wilt, become an issue, as the disease may impact a neighbor’s tree, too, if the roots are intertwined.

If questions remain after researching the issue, consult the expertise of an Austin tree care company. They can likely assist you with determining whether or not the species you desire to plant, as well as where you’d like to plant them on your property, will be troublesome in the future.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree service in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and oak wilt treatment. For more information on Austin tree service, please visit

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