tree conflicts

As a homeowner, you probably cherish the beauty of the trees on your property. However, trees can sometimes cause conflicts with your neighbors, resulting in strained relationships.

At Tree Harmony Arborists, we understand the importance of preserving harmony between neighbors. In this blog post, we’ll discuss common tree conflicts and offer practical advice on how to resolve them amicably.

Trees Falling on a Neighbor’s Property

When trees fall, they don’t always land within property lines. If a tree from your yard damages your neighbor’s property, it can create tension.

The first step after a tree falls is to ensure that everyone on the property is safe. Once the immediate danger is dealt with, reach out to your neighbor to discuss the situation calmly. Cooperate in arranging for tree removal and repairs.

From there, you can each work with your insurance companies to deal with the financial fallout. Ideally, you and your neighbor should both have home insurance that covers tree damage. You are more likely to receive insurance benefits or avoid being found “at fault” if you have a recent arborist report showing that you were taking care of your trees.

Tree Branches that Cross Property Lines

tree conflicts
Overhanging branches can sometimes annoy neighbors, especially if the branches block sunlight, shed leaves, or restrict property usage.

In most cases, Washington State allows you to trim the branches from a neighbor’s tree if they encroach onto your property. However, you will need to be careful. You are not allowed to trim parts of the tree that fall on their side of the property, and if you damage the tree, you could receive a fine.

Before taking any action on overhanging tree branches, you may want to consult with a professional arborist. They can help you safely trim the branches on your side of the property line without causing damage.

Tree Trunks that Cross Property Lines

Boundary disputes can arise when trees grow so large that their trunks encroach onto neighboring properties. This situation requires a delicate approach.

First, have a respectful conversation with your neighbor about the boundary and the tree’s growth. Consider hiring a professional surveyor to assess the property line accurately. Based on the surveyor’s findings, you can work together to find a fair resolution for any tree- or boundary-related problems.

Be prepared to make concessions. You may need to share the cost of tree removal or reach a compromise on property lines.

Tree Roots that Cross Property Lines

As trees mature, their roots can extend into neighboring yards. Sometimes these growing roots can cause damage to structures or garden spaces. While Washington State usually allows you to trim encroaching roots from a neighbor’s tree, you may have to pay a fine if you damage the tree in the process.

If roots from your neighbor’s tree are damaging your property, it’s best to avoid angry confrontations. Instead, consult with a professional arborist who can evaluate the situation. They may suggest careful pruning, root barriers, or other solutions.

Leaves Blowing into a Neighbor’s Yard

While this issue may seem minor, leaves blowing into a neighbor’s yard can cause frustration. Trees that are near property lines tend to scatter their leaves on both sides of the line. And if you use a leaf blower, it’s easy to accidentally blow your leaves onto your neighbor’s property — maybe even onto their basement window.

Adding a fence or hedge can sometimes reduce leaf drift issues. You may also want to offer to help your neighbor clean up the fallen leaves on their property if they’re mostly from your trees. It may not be legally required, but it’s a nice thing to do for good relations with your neighbor.

Trees Blocking a Neighbor’s View

We often hear from homeowners who are frustrated that a tree obstructs their own or their neighbor’s view. Sometimes you can’t do much about this issue, but in other cases, you may be able to prune in a way that allows better sight lines.

In most areas, there are no laws to protect views from trees. In fact, removing a tree to improve a view is illegal in some areas, including Seattle. However, some neighborhood associations have covenants that protect homeowners’ views.

We recommend checking with your neighborhood association to see if they have procedures for addressing view concerns. Here are some ways you may be able to protect your own or your neighbor’s view:

  • Thinning, or removing some foliage while keeping the tree’s structure. Thinning should be done by a professional arborist to avoid damage and reduce resprouting. This is NOT the same as topping a tree, which is usually a poor long-term solution.
  • Windowing, or creating view holes. Windowing is sometimes a good choice for large trees. By carefully choosing which branches to cut, a professional arborist can create a fully framed view through the tree without causing damage.
  • Skirting, or removing lower tree branches. This tactic can work if the desired view is behind a lower part of the tree. However, if you skirt the tree more than a third of the way up, you can create a top-heavy look or add safety risks.

At Tree Harmony Arborists, we believe that healthy relationships with your neighbors are as vital as caring for your trees. Open communication and a willingness to find solutions together can help you maintain a peaceful coexistence.

Our team of professional arborists is always here to lend a helping hand. If you need tree trimming, pruning, or advice on resolving tree-related disputes, Tree Harmony is your trusted solution. We can help you find tree options that keep the peace between neighbors.

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