My Neighbor's Tree

Dear Chuck:

I park my car in the driveway on the edge of my property. My neighbor has an acacia tree which, at certain times of the year, drops leaves and even flower petals and pollen on my car. It’s a real mess! I want to cut back the branches of his tree, so they don’t hang over and litter on my car. Is it legal for me to do that?

Signed,

A frustrated fan

This is a good question and one which we get quite often. The answer is, “Maybe.” Are you surprised? According to Florida law, there are certain conditions in which it’s acceptable to cut parts of a neighbor’s tree.

Conditions

First, the tree can’t be damaged by being pruned. In other words, you aren’t allowed to prune it if pruning the tree makes it die or causes damage which harms it.

The second thing is that you aren’t allowed to go onto your neighbor’s property to prune the tree. Being limited to your side of the fence creates a dilemma. Because, while you may be able to trim back the growth, you can’t actively prune the branch or branches causing your troubles.

Solutions

As with any problem, one solution is to do nothing. But, you might find yourself resenting your neighbor if you have to take a leaf blower to clean out the back seat of your convertible several times a year.

The second option is to ask your neighbor to prune the tree. While the branches may overhang onto your property, generally, a tree will be healthier if it’s pruned regularly rather than simply trimmed in one spot.

A third solution is to get out there with a pair of pruning shears and try to do the job yourself. If the tree doesn’t need more than a few stray branches sheared back, this might solve the problem.

Fourth, if it needs more than a tiny trim, you may want to consider a tree trimming company. Since you can be held responsible for the death or disease of this tree incurred as the result of pruning, this is a wise way to get what you want and also prove due diligence should anyone question the health of the tree later.

Sometimes it isn’t easy to be a good neighbor. We all want to do our part and hope neighbors will do their part, too. But, a beautiful tree in the neighborhood will contribute to the ambiance of the area, which is what raises property values.

Chuck’s Tree Service offers tree trimming and pruning, palm tree trimming, and tree removal, in Pasco, Hernando and Pinellas Counties. 24/7 emergency service. Call us today at 727-351-8488!