Despite the aesthetic appeal and numerous environmental advantages of trees, it can be quite bothersome when branches from a neighbor’s tree keep falling into your meticulously maintained garden. So, what’s the next step?

You can throw tree branches and leaves back into your neighbor’s yard if he throws them into your yard on purpose or if he lets them fall into your yard during tree trimming. On the other hand, if the dead branches and leaves from an overhanging tree fall into your yard naturally, it is illegal to throw them back into your neighbor’s yard.

In this article, you will find valuable information on how to settle this problem in the best way possible.

Can I throw branches from my neihgbors tree back over his fence

Rules regarding neighbor’s tree

The tree law1 defines the rules governing ownership, liability, rights, and responsibilities of property owners and neighbors. It also helps ensure the welfare and preservation of trees growing on private and public property.

Who owns the tree near a property boundary line?

According to the law, the ownership of a tree resides entirely with the owner of the property on whose land the tree trunk grows. It doesn’t matter whether the branches of the tree extend over the property boundary line into an adjoining private property.

Who owns a tree when a tree trunk grows astride a property boundary line?

If the boundary line passes directly through the trunk of a tree, adjoining property owners share ownership of the tree. In this case, any arboreal work undertaken on the tree must be conducted with the mutual consent of the neighbors.

Simply put, property owners need to cooperate when it comes to managing the trees that grow along their common boundary lines.

Self-help in tree law

This rule in a tree law allows the non-owners of trees growing alongside their property boundary lines to trim branches and roots when they pose a danger to the property on their side of the boundary line.

Who is responsible for the damage if the tree falls on a neighbor’s house?

If the plaintiff can prove negligence on the owner’s part the tree owner is liable for the damage if a tree falls to a neighbor’s house.

However, if a branch encroaching on the neighbor’s land fell and damaged property, the non-owner cannot sue for damages if self-help was not undertaken.

Is damage caused by fallen trees covered by homeowner’s insurance?

If the tree fall is caused by the event demanded as an Act of God which includes violent storms, most homeowner insurance policies make provision for fiscal damage. However, if the negligence on the tree owner’s part in managing the tree’s stability is proved by the insurer, the claim will be refuted.

Can tree roots that damage infrastructure be cut by a neighbor?

If the root system from a neighbor’s tree becomes a threat to existing infrastructure can be cut without harming the health of the tree. If a tree dies because its root system has failed due to your cutting, the tree owner can sue you for damages.

Can I enter an adjoining property to trim overhanging tree branches?

No. If you enter the adjoining property to trim overhanging branches without the owner’s permission, such an act will be considered trespassing and can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

Can I do anything regarding my neighbor’s tree?

One of the things you can do with your neighbor’s tree2 that is overhanging on your property is to prune the overhanging branch. Be careful not to harm the tree or destroy its aesthetic appeal. Also, if the invasive roots of the tree are damaging your property you can cut them. For this task call a certified arborist and talk to your neighbor.

Taking on such activities without talking to your neighbor and without a certified arborist can get you into legal trouble.

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The property line - when to take action?

For everything to be clear regarding the tree’s responsibility you should determine where exactly the tree lands on the property line and where its branches are branching out.

According to tree law expert RJ Laverne there are two situations:

  • The tree is mainly on the neighbor’s side, and
  • The tree is right in the middle of the property line.


The tree is mainly on the neighbor’s side

The tree is legally your neighbor’s if the majority of the tree trunk is on the opposite side of your property line. However, you still have the right to trim the branches that clearly hang over onto your side of the property.

You should be careful here though not to harm the tree. Wrong pruning or cutting of certain branches can cause serious damage to the tree and may cause it to die. You will face legal charges in this situation because technically the tree isn’t yours. Talk with your neighbor and call a professional and certified arborist.

The tree is right in the middle of the property line

Any decision in this situation about the future of the tree must be met in full agreement because if the tree is precisely in the middle of the property line it is legally both yours.

If you can not find a mutual language with your neighbor, consult your local Home Owner Association or ask local property experts to be a mediator.

A Neighbour’s tree caused damage to my property

A dangerous neighbor’s tree can cause damage to your property. Dangerous trees include trees that are rotting or diseased. It is normal for trees to get sick over time, however, it is the owner’s duty to conduct regular inspections and prevent this occurrence.

If the tree falls as a result of your neighbor’s negligence is his responsibility for any property damages that occur. Negligence will be considered if your neighbor doesn’t trim the dead parts of the tree or not inspecting the tree for diseases.


There are a few reasons for branches from your neighbors to fall back into your yard.

  • Natural causes such as strong winds, heavy rain, or lightning strikes;
  • The natural age of the tree that causes branches to become weak and prone to falling;
  • Pests or diseases that weaken the tree and cause branches to fall.

You can not stop branches from your neighbor’s tree from falling into your yard but you can prevent it.

  • Trim branches that are overhanging your property to reduce the risk of branches falling into your yard;
  • Regularly maintain your own trees because proper care will prevent branches from into your neighbor’s yard and cause problems;
  • Plant trees appropriate for your climate. It is a less likely tree to suffer from pests and diseases that can weaken branches and make them prone to falling.

Since the fruit belong to the tree owner you are not allowed to pick up the fruit from overhanging branches without the owner’s permission.

Around 10-20 feet is the recommended distance for small or medium trees. For particularly large trees the distance should be 20+ feet in order to avoid future problems with roots or branches.

Yes, tree roots can damage a house’s foundation since they are very opportunistic and will grow and penetrate where it is easiest to grow such as friable soil and mulch.

  1. Robert Rafii, Esq., (2023) Conflicts Involving Trees and Neighbors. <> Accessed: 29-02-2024.
  2. The Hive Law, (2024) Can I Throw A Neighbor’s Tree Branches Back In Their Yard? <> Accessed: 29-02-2024.
Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.