My garden is full of leaves from my neighbour’s trees
Your property query answered
The owners of trees are not responsible for the leaves their trees shed into neighbouring properties. It is considered to be a natural seasonal occurrence. Photograph: Istock
Q: My neighbour has a lot of trees in his front and back garden, and the tree branches overgrow the boundary walls. As I do not want to cause any bad feeling, I do not kick up about this. However, at this time of year, my garden ends up full of his leaves. Other than politely asking him to tidy up, is there anything I can do?
A: Trees shedding their leaves into neighbouring gardens is a source of annoyance to many householders. However the owners of trees are not responsible for the leaves their trees shed into neighbouring properties. It is considered to be a natural seasonal occurrence. You do have the right to cut off overhanging branches at the boundary line. This should considerably reduce the volume of leaves falling on your side.
However, before you take any such action I suggest that you have a discussion with your neighbour and explain your concern. You should appeal to his sense of fairness by presenting the issue as a shared issue and ask for suggestions on how the volume of leaves may be reduced. Involving him in looking at the problem and in suggesting a means of mitigating it may be the best way of achieving a positive response.
In the absence of legislation or regulations dealing with this issue you are dependent on his goodwill to cooperate with you and deal with the fallen leaves. He may request that you contribute to the cost of mitigation measures, such as the removal of some trees or a reduction in their size. This would be a matter for you to consider against the benefit of having no leaves, or a reduced amount of leaves in your garden.
If your neighbour does not cooperate, the removal of the overhanging branches is likely to be your best option. However, in order to maintain a reasonable relationship with him, it is advisable to inform him in advance that you propose to take this action. If you do remove the overhanging branches, you are obliged to offer to return them to him as they are his property. Unfortunately, the fallen leaves are a different proposition. They are solely your responsibility and actions such as collecting them and asking him to take them back is likely to provoke an antagonistic response and therefore reduce the possibility of future cooperation with him.
In summary, the outcome of this issue is substantially dependant on your relationship with your neighbour and you should try to avoid actions that would eliminate any hope of a resolution.
Patrick Shine is a Chartered Geomatics Surveyor, a Chartered Civil Engineer and a member of SCSI, scsi.ie