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Your Rights on Trees & Overhanging Branches

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 30 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Rights On Trees Rights On Overhanging

Trees can add a great deal of splendour to a garden. They could be fruit bearing trees, a place in which to retreat to the shade and they can also add a great deal of colour to a garden. However, they can also cause a nuisance to a next door neighbour when they start encroaching onto your side of the fence, with problems ranging from attracting unwanted insects like bees and wasps, blocking out your light and shedding their leaves all over your garden. Therefore, it’s important to know what your rights are and what you can and cannot do.

Establishing Ownership of Trees

The tree belongs to the person upon whose land it has originally grown. Even if its branches or, worse still, its roots have begun to grow over or into a neighbour’s territory, it belongs to the landowner where the tree was originally planted. Even if the tree bears fruit or flowers on branches which overhang into your land, it’s an offence under the Theft Act 1968 to keep them or to take cuttings of flowers, for example.

Obviously, many neighbours will not tend to worry about that too much but should a neighbour, for example, see you collecting apples from their tree even though the branches have grown onto your side, they are legally entitled to ask you to return them.

Overhanging Branches

If the branches of a neighbour’s tree start to grow over to your side, you can cut them back to the boundary point between you and your neighbour’s property, as long as the tree is not under a tree preservation order. If it is, you’ll need to seek further clarification. However, the branches and any fruit on them which you may have cut down on your side still belong to the tree owner so they can ask you to return them.

It's a bit of an anomaly really, as while you are obliged to offer the branches back, if any leaves from your neighbour’s tree fall into your garden in autumn, you have no right to ask them to come around and sweep them up.

On the other hand, should the trees be causing SIGNIFICANT damage to your gutters (not just blocking them) you can ask your neighbour to pay to have them cleared or to pay for the cost of any damage they might have caused. If they refuse to do so, you can legally sue them and force them into paying. If you lop off any branches on your neighbour’s (the tree owner) side of the fence, you are not entitled to Gain Access To Their Property to cut off some more. This is trespassing and you could be prosecuted.

Tree Roots

You are entitled to dig up and remove any roots that have encroached upon your land. Roots can cause a lot of problems and if they’re deep and/or causing subsidence or any other form of damage to your side of the property, you might need to get a tree surgeon or some other kind of structural engineer to deal with the problem.

It’s always better to discuss this with your neighbour first but if an expert does have to be called in, it’s the tree owner’s responsibility to foot the bill. They can then choose to pay up front or by claiming it against their own home insurance policy.

Take Action

You may also be interested in our neighbour's trees action guide - written by a barrister

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My next door tree is over growing in my garden I’ve jist do my garden out and the tree branches keep falling n my garden I’ve asked them to cut it back but they are not assed
HelloFresh - 30-Sep-20 @ 2:45 PM
Hi my neighbours at back of me have a non edible tree overgrown the berries n leaves keep coming in my garden n nearly had disaster last week my grandson put berries in mouth luckily I got them out everyday my garden looks a mess I sweep up everyday artificial lawn which I had done as my grandson has cerebral palsy can I cut the tree bk so it doesn’t come in my garden without her permission
Shell - 28-Sep-20 @ 5:58 PM
My neighbour lifted a fence panel came into my garden and drilled into the base of a tree. I reported both to the police for criminal damage and to the council as they are tenants. The letter they had from the council sort of did the trick but they did come round being aggressive and thought it hilarious when I said it made me feel unsafe in my home. I would still advise anyone to make a report. Its bullying and they wont get away with it.
Witchy - 6-Sep-20 @ 2:28 PM
My daughter has a fruit bearing tree (non/edible) overhanging her back garden but the tree is full over wasps after the fruit and she is unable to let her children (one has already been stung) or even her dogs (also been stung) into the garden at all now? She is so terrified that the wasps will attack again, they have been literally smashing against her windows trying to get in! She contacted the farmer who said he would allow the nest to be removed but the pest controller said that there was no nest in the tree and that the wasps were literally being attracted by the berries and therefore he could not help her! Our question is, can the farmer legally refuse for the tree to be trimmed down in this case as that appears to be the only way to stop the wasps according to the pest controller?
Lily58 - 5-Sep-20 @ 11:47 AM
My neighbour keeps cutting the leaves off my yucca tree that is about 2 Ish from the boundary are they allowed to cut it when it’s in my garden we do not get on and don’t speak what can I do to stop them thanks
Bob - 27-Aug-20 @ 5:15 PM
I have a problem next door neighbour that keeps cutting the leaves off my yucca tree past the boundary we do not get on or speak what can I do to stop them and will my yucca survive
Bob - 27-Aug-20 @ 5:10 PM
There are two silver birches overlooking my garden. My neighbours gardens are higher than mine and the trees are at least 50 ft high. The branches hang over my garden and the mess is awful, I can’t open my windows without them covering my bath and even getting into my bed. I’ve asked them to trim them down but they’ve refused. I think I can cut down the branches that overhang in my garden and give them to her but I just wanted to know if there’s a law regarding the height of the trees.
Pinklady - 22-Aug-20 @ 11:02 PM
Hi. I’m struggling with my neighbour. He has two very large eucalyptus trees next to my boundary. They have TPO on them. Don’t ask me why? They are very large And overhang my garden deposit branches and leaves everywhere I have asked him to trim them as advised by the local authority tree officer. He refuses. Where do I go next? Any advice.
Janus - 21-Aug-20 @ 3:11 PM
The neighbour who back on to my back garden have been cutting down trees at 6.30 am my concern is that we have had birds nesting in the trees. I'm also worried he will try to cut my trees down behind my summerhouse as last year I had to stop him from doing this as he thought they were on he's land I did dhow him that the neighbours to both sides of us they fencing was in line with mine so he should not cut my trees down
Vanessa - 20-Aug-20 @ 8:24 PM
I have my private parking spot, and to the side of my car is a boundary fence and beyond that belongs to the council, there is about six cherry trees that are overhanging the car park and my car gets covered every year with cherries and when they are ripe they sick all over the car and windows and leave stains on my car . I’ve informed the council about this problem and nothing has been done about it, is there anything I can do so this problem doesn’t occur again, thanks
Magoo - 18-Aug-20 @ 11:57 AM
My neighbour is a local authority. The trees in their woodland,which abutts my land, are growing through my fences,overhanging my garden andblocking sunlight. What ard my rights to enforce them to manage their wood and coppucd their immensely high trees.
Rosierainbows - 18-Aug-20 @ 1:28 AM
My neighbour has trees under a preservation order and a hedge that are causing structural damage to my property, can I cut off the overhanging branches and who pays for the tree surgeon? How much would a solicitors letter cost to write to the owner of the trees approximately?
Lindylou - 14-Aug-20 @ 10:26 AM
I have a neighbour who asked if they could cut their trees from my side of the garden and then left the branches in my garden. Can I throw them back over to them.
Prehysteria - 12-Aug-20 @ 12:10 AM
If its damaging your house get a solicitor involved as the tree owner needs to pay for any damages and work needed to repair what his tree has done. This is by law
Rob54231 - 5-Aug-20 @ 5:01 PM
My neighbour has a rose bush at the front of our terraced properties and it overgrows over to our side of the drive every year making it very difficult for me to get children in and out of the car! I cut it back last year as it was awful but this year husband is saying I need to ask first because of the flowers on it. Is this right? We don't get along with them so I'm not really wanting to have to knock on the door to ask permission to cut it back! Any advice greatly appreciated!
kbakes - 5-Aug-20 @ 8:47 AM
Where do I stand? My neighbours silver birch trees and conifers are taller than my house, over hang my land, block out light and are damaging my roof. Where do I go for help? I’m not council I own the house in question Help - he’s an awful, selfish little old man
Clare - 1-Aug-20 @ 6:35 PM
I have tree growing wildly behind my fence at back of garden. It is pushing my fence down. The land the tree is growing on is owned by a building company. I wrote to them, have made several calls and left messages, asking them to cut the tree. They are ignoring all my messages. My neighbours also have trees growing, owned by building company, with branches going in their gardens. The building company is not maintaining any of these trees. What should we do next?
Cazz - 19-Jul-20 @ 8:53 PM
We had a sycamore overhanging our garden.The tree surgeon told us that if the tree had grown up after any Tree Preservation Order had been put in place then no permission was required to fell it.However, you can go onto your local government website and check this out.
JR47 - 17-Jul-20 @ 3:19 PM
We have 3 large sycamores on council owned land that overhang the top of our garden by up to 15 feet. We live in a conservation area. 3 times in the last 15 years we have paid to have the trees sided but only so far up. Council in this time has never maintained them, they are now so large branches regularly fall into our garden during bad weather and nothing will grow as the trees are taking any goodness from the soil. I have had 3 well maintained bushes wither in the last year. Are there any legal obligations I can use to get the council to bette rmanage these trees. I don't see why we keep having to pay out.
BF - 13-Jul-20 @ 9:44 AM
We have tree that has been on the property longer than we have lived here, it’s trunk and roots are overlapping our neighbours boundary and now wants it removed. Do we have to have removed as the tree is healthy and instead we could crown it giving them back some light. Thanks for any advice
Howard - 11-Jul-20 @ 7:28 PM
I have a neighbour, who gave me consent to cutting the overhanging branches of his tree. However he refuses to take the branches back and tells me I must and legally have to dispose of them. This is a cost that I have to pay. Is this correct?
Ave - 9-Jul-20 @ 3:18 PM
My neighbour has planted a fruit tree right against the fence and the small plums fall constantly on my side.This attracts wasps and their are loads now near my patio doors.Can I do anything about the tree ... we do not talk to each other.
Magd - 8-Jul-20 @ 2:32 PM
My nextdoor neighbour has a large tree that overhangs my garden the branches die and drop into the garden some are large and hert when they land on you can l cut back
Terry - 3-Jul-20 @ 4:15 PM
Network rail want to come on my property and remove trees that are over hanging the adjoining fence
Sandy - 1-Jul-20 @ 3:39 PM
Our neighbour cut branches from our over hanging tree, then dumped them into our garden over the fence.We are Military so live in our military quarter. This above problem happened in our own home where we are not living. Our neighbour knows we only visit occasionally .... but now not since March.Our other neighbour informed us of this happening and took a photo for us. We have investigated that she should "offer us the branches" but we are not obliged to take them, then it is her responsibility to dispose off them. We have written to her to tell her all about this and that she is now "flytipping".She has not responded to our letter - 2 weeks ago now and the branches are still there. Not very neighbourly !!She asked the other neighbour for our email address but we have not received any correspondence from her. What do we now do ? Help
em - 28-Jun-20 @ 1:28 PM
the house next to mine is vacant and for sale. there are 30ft high conifers on the boundary which overhang my property. can I cut the branches back to the boundary and put them back into the neighbouring garden without the owners consent
toe - 28-Jun-20 @ 12:09 PM
Hi, I had a tree growing on my garden which was outside of my property and the fence is cut like that. It is also in an alleyway to the other neighbours house, my next door neighbour has decided to remove my tree without discussing with me what can I do? Please help
Rita - 28-Jun-20 @ 8:53 AM
my neighbor decided to trim my trees branches. that over hanged the fence line. But he trimmed them back to the trunk. Which is 6 feet from the fence line. He did this without my consent. I contact the city and they informed me it basically a civil matter. What can I do has a home owner. other then getting a expensive lawyer. I'm in California and I can't find any codes. That would protect a home owner. The neighbor got what he wanted. I'm stuck with a tree that trimmed way back.
john - 27-Jun-20 @ 7:14 AM
My laurels on my side of four adjoining propertieshave way overgrown the property lines and have been doing so for many years - long before I moved here. I honestly welcome the neighbors trimming the branches off on their sides! But I have one very rude neighbor who doesn't want them cut at all due to privacy screening they create on her side. Now I can easily cut off the branches from my side of the property but it leaves them dead on her side. Help! I don’t want to anger the neighbor but the branches are destroying the fence line and it needs to be repaired. Does the neighbor have any rights to my plants considering how long they may have been there? Can she make me leave the overhanging limbs or the ones growing through the fence lines in place? These nice but overgrown laurels are beyond huge and need drastic taming. What is my next step?
Katie - 26-Jun-20 @ 8:27 AM
My neighbour allows her trees and shrubs to grow into my garden, including an oak tree which grows 25 foot into mine and neighbours garden, she has said we can cut them back but we are all pensioners and can't afford to pay for this, the oak drops a lot of dead wood which is a safety hazard. What can we do. 6 Gardens back on to her garden.
Pat - 25-Jun-20 @ 4:00 PM
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