How close to property line can i plant a tree?

Bridget HelmAugust 27, 2010

In agreement with our neighbors, we decided against privacy fences, so I'm planting trees instead. The yards are deep enough to where we really don't need fences. However, the family that lives behind us (the back of their house faces the back of our house) have somewhat of a messy area that they keep all of their potting stuff like old plant pots that are just growing weeds etc.

When I drive down my driveway, this is what i see. So i'd like to plant a red oak to distract from the mess back there. However, the spot that it would need to planted in in order to effectively distract is VERY close to our side neighbor's yard. He does not have or want trees in his yard. He's one of those that keeps his grass crazy short so that it never grows. I'm guessing he doesn't want to fool with leaves etc.

How close to his property line can I plant the oak?? I really want to plant it about a foot away. However, the spot in question is waaaaaayy to the back in the back left corner of our yard, so it's really far from his house. The tree being to close to his house wouldn't be a problem.

I don't want to be a jerk, however. What do you think?

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Dan Staley

Most municipalities say that neighbors can prune overhanging branches all the way up from the property line. As your trunk will eventually increase to go over the property line, the particular municipality should state how that works when the tree straddles the property line. If not, its a civil matter.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:20PM
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Ask your neighbor what they would rather have. Shade, leaves, acorns, squirrels, surface roots, etc or a neighbor with a privacy fence.

The nicest thing to do is to tell them what your ideas are and get some feedback from them about it. As mentioned, you could come home one day to find half the tree missing.

I think I remember from your other posts you are in southern louisiana. You may be able to accomplish what you're looking to do with more compact screening trees or shrubs that are not so messy such as hollies.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 5:44PM
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I do have a privacy fence and also I have two trees very close to my neighbor line. I did not plant them they grew on their own. I think they are Maple or just huge green trees. They are so beautiful like drawn by an artist extending 80-90 feet tall and spreading their branches and roots in my neighbor's yard.I asked the neighbor permission to come to their yard with my ladder and chain saw. They did not mind. I trim as much as I can. It is embarrassing. I asked the Neighbor if it is a bother to them I can remove them and his wife said "No don't I love the trees you don't know how much oxygen they are producing and look how many bird nests in the trees I enjoy the singing of the birds". I planted 4 Apricot trees this year on the same side but left a good 6 feet between the trees and the fence. Even they are dwarf Apricot trees and don't grow that much I wanted to make sure they stay in my property. Some Neighbors are very cynical once I had a neighbor who used to get upset when my cat walks on his grass He moved. I am lucky now I have Good ones.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:13AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i would do shrubs to hide a mess ....

long before i would contemplate planting a 50 to 100 foot tree...

a tree will take decades to cover most anything ...

a shrub will take care of the issue inside a couple years ...

it might really help.. if you gave us a clue as to where you are ....

is this a HOA agreement ... or just the neighbors BS'ing??? .. personally i would never restrict what i do with my property.. on a handshake and a nod ... who knows what will happen in the future ... other than litigation i suppose


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Bridget Helm

he's a good guy. he wouldn't flip out on us. he would just be annoyed by leaves etc.

i'm in south La (southwest of baton rouge). i don't want shrubs. i don't really like the way they look in the middle of a yard. i was thinking about camellia sasaquas, but they are so expensive down here because they only sell them in REALLLY big gallon pots. i'd have to get a truck to get them to my house. i prefer the price and the ease of a tree that i can slide in my minivan.

i don't expect it to hide the mess, just distract from it. i'll think about a holly

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 11:45PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

The first impression is one of two things:
If he becomes mad at any point in the life of that tree, he could willingly prune it so whatever is on his side - he could cut making the tree now a grotesque specimen. The other is to offer, only if necessary, to rake up any leaves on his side.

Then you see what Ken wrote above which suggests that "anything" could happen. Not to sound loudish, but what happens if you decide to move sometime leaving the litter mess of leaves now to the ('responsibility') of the new home-owner. Even more so, what happens if you die. This is getting wild, but now you see that it really does initiate future complications.

If you can agree on an Oak planting, Quercus coccinea would be my first choice for speed - fall color - and a liking for southern climates.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Scarlet oak may like the northern, upper elevations of the South but I'm not so sure it would like the gulf coast. Does anyone know?
I'm thinking Nutall might be a better deciduous oak for that location.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:41PM
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Is a deciduous tree with a canopy well above-ground really the best option for blocking or detracting from the view of messy ground clutter in a neighbor's yard?

I don't know what works well in your region; I'd ask around & see what would create the effect of a row of Green Giant or Emerald Green Arborvitae, hollies (perhaps Oak-Leaf Holly, which can produce berries without a male), or something like that.

I get that things would look a bit better with a large, beautiful oak, but then again, you can see around the trunk and still see the junk.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 8:04PM
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