Can I Trim My Neighbor’s Tree?

Wooden fence with overhanging treesWhen you inspect your fence for winter, one of the things that we’ve advised you to look for are overhanging tree branches. It’s easy enough to deal with overhanging branches when the trees that produce them are in your own yard.

Sometimes, however, the overhanging branches will be coming from your neighbor’s tree. What do you do then?

According to, you actually are allowed to trim your neighbor’s tree branches if they extend over your property line. However, you do have to be careful to stop at the property line.

It’s very important to exercise caution when trimming your neighbor’s tree. If you’re found to have damaged the tree, your neighbor might have a claim against you.

You could wind up paying three times the amount the tree was worth. FindLaw mentions ornamental trees that are worth as much as $20,000, though the average is $500 to $2000.

Of course, before you break out the chainsaw we here at A-1 Fence recommend simply knocking on your neighbor’s door. A brief conversation with your neighbor to explain the problem might be all that it takes to resolve it.

If you can get your neighbor to trim the offending branches then you’ve removed yourself and any questions of any damage you might cause from the equation. Your neighbor might also appreciate the gesture, too.

We only recommend trying to trim rogue tree branches in your yard if you’ve had the discussion with your neighbor and your neighbor refuses to do anything about the problem.

Of course, you should be aware of these issues yourself if parts of your own trees hang over your neighbor’s property line, or if you choose to plant trees to reduce road noise.

You should also be aware that some trees belong to both you and your neighbor. These are called “boundary trees,” and they’re very similar to the boundary fences we’ve already discussed.

When you have a boundary tree both you and your neighbor own it. And both you and your neighbor share some responsibility for it.

It’s safest to simply continue to worry about your side of the tree even if the tree is a boundary tree. You should know that you won’t be able to remove the tree without your neighbor’s permission, even though half of it is on your property.

If you can, try to maintain positive relationships with your neighbors before issues like this arise. They may be far more receptive than if you only ever show up to talk to them when there’s a problem.

A-1 Fence has been installing high-quality fences in Fox Point, West Bend, Port Washington, Greendale and the rest of the Milwaukee metro area for over 35 years. We offer free estimates on fence installation and fence repair, so call us today.

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