Determining ownership and responsibility for trees situated on a boundary line shared between properties can present challenges.

A tree on a property line has shared ownership and responsibility for both neighbors depending on what is being done to the tree.

If you want to prune your side, it’s your responsibility, the same goes for your neighbor with trimming their side.

In the case of full tree removal, both parties are responsible and will need to share the cost.

tree on property fence line

Laws1 in most countries state that a landowner owns anything and everything that is on his property, above his property (to a reasonable height), and also, below the land (again to a reasonable depth).

A tree is basically shared between both parties, so both own and are responsible for it.

If you are looking to trim anything on your side of the fence, you should be fine to do so, but removing the tree will need consent from the parties.

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Can I trim branches overhanging my side?

Whether it is a tree on the property line or a tree completely in your neighbor’s yard, you have the right to prune anything that is hanging over your side of the fence.

You also have the right to throw all branches back over their side of the fence. I suggest not doing this if you want to maintain a good relationship. If there is fruit on the tree, I suggest returning this to your neighbor as it is their property.

You will need to check local tree trimming laws to ensure it is legal to trim trees2 without a permit.

Do I need to tell my neighbour?

By law, you are not obliged to inform your neighbor in most cities and counties, but there are some places where they do mandate communication first to avoid disputes.

The law aside, I think it is always a good idea to communicate with your neighbor before you do anything.

It’s not worth falling out over some tree branches. Keep it civil and you can’t go wrong.

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